Facing a possible seventh loss of the season, the Carolina Panthers still have life.
Thanks to a 20-point first half, the Panthers held off a late surge by the New Orleans Saints to improve to 4-6 on the season with a 23-20 victory on Thursday Night Football. The two NFC South division rivals met in New Orleans during week six which ended in a 41-38 win for the Saints. In act two, a little bit more defense was on display on this night.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton tossed for 192 yards and a touchdown on the night. His lone passing touchdown was a beauty of a pass as he connected with receiver Ted Ginn for 40 yards with 23 seconds remaining in the first half to give Carolina a 20-3 halftime lead.
The Panthers relinquished a 17-point lead to Kansas City just five days ago which ended in another devastating loss for the Panthers. On this night, that weary feeling arrived again as the Saints (4-6) scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter behind two touchdown passes by Saints quarterback Drew Brees and a 30-yard field goal by kicker Wil Lutz. New Orleans trimmed the lead to 23-20 with under three minutes remaining when Brees found tight end Coby Fleener for an eight-yard touchdown which made it absolutely impossible to not pose the question “Is it happening again?”.
On the ensuing drive, Newton found his #1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin on third-and-10 for 18 yards for a big first down that just about sealed the win for the home team.
On the night, Brees completed 35-of-44 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints offense received vital contributions from running back Tim Hightower who totaled 126 yards from scrimmage and the offense as a whole totaled 371 yards. Panthers defensive end Mario Addison totaled two sacks on the night and starting middle linebacker Luke Kuechly totaled 14 tackles along with one pass deflection but exited the game late in the fourth quarter due to what was believed to be by the Panthers training staff as a concussion.