NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Drew Brees handed for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints held off Carolina’s late comeback bid to seal a 31-26 victory of their NFC wild-card recreation on Sunday.
The Panthers had a primary down on the Saints 26-yard line with 58 seconds left, however heavy strain by All-Professional defensive finish Cameron Jordan a pair performs later induced an intentional grounding penalty on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, making it third-and-25 on the Saints 34 and a required 10-second runoff left 22 seconds on the clock.
After an incompletion ultimately zone on third down, Vonn Bell sacked Newton on a security blitz, making certain the Saints (12-5) swept all three conferences with Carolina (11-6) this season, along with profitable their first playoff recreation in 4 seasons.
“We wished it extra,” Jordan stated. “I imply they have been to their Tremendous Bowl, let ’em go to a different one subsequent 12 months. We wish our run.”
Brees’ touchdowns went for 80-yards to Ted Ginn and 9 yards to tight finish Josh Hill. Fullback Zach line and operating again Alvin Kamara every ran for brief touchdowns, the latter arrange by Michael Thomas 46-yard reception.
Thomas caught eight passes for 131 yards on a day when the Saints wanted the passing recreation to compensate for a floor recreation that struggled to get going.
Helped by the presence of tight finish Greg Olsen – who didn’t play within the groups’ earlier two conferences – Newton marched Carolina into Saints territory most of the time. However the Panthers stalled 4 instances from contained in the New Orleans 25, settling for 4 discipline purpose makes an attempt on these drives, considered one of which kicker Graham Gano surprisingly missed.
Olsen had eight catches for 107 yards and a landing. Newton completed 24 of 40 passing for 349 yards and two touchdowns, the opposite a 56-yard scoring strike to Christian McCaffrey that pulled the Panthers inside a landing with four:09 left.
However Newton was additionally sacked 4 instances, as soon as every by Bell, Jordan, Jonathan Freeney, and David Onyemata. The sack by Onyemata got here as Newton tried to spin away from Tyeler Davison and slammed his head into Onyemata’s chest. Newton was checked for a concussion, however missed just one play earlier than returning to the sport.
“We needed to end out the sport and put it on our protection, put it on me, put it on our secondary, our D-line,” Jordan stated. “I imply, all people responded the way in which we have been speculated to.”
Nonetheless, the Panthers have been in putting distance for the win after a failed gamble by Saints coach Sean Payton, who elected to maintain the offense on the sector on fourth-and-short with two minutes remaining. He hoped to expire the clock on Carolina, which was out of timeouts. It backfired when Brees’ go as he scrambled to his proper was intercepted by Adams, giving Carolina the ball at its 31 with 1:51 to go.
“This win is particular,” Jordan stated. “They got here again late within the fourth quarter, made this a recreation.”
Panthers: Newton missed one play – a failed third-and-long – whereas being evaluated for a concussion after Onyemata’s sack. Cornerback Daryl Worley briefly was positioned within the concussion protocol but additionally cleared to return through the recreation.
Saints: Beginning left guard Andrus Peat was carted off the sector with a left shin harm. His alternative, Senio Kelemete, later wanted assist off the sector for an undisclosed harm.