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Sports

Saints alive, kick Carolina Panthers from the unbeaten ranks
Offense struggles again in 34-13 loss
 
Published Sunday, September 24, 2017 4:47 pm
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO/TROY HULL
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was sacked four times and intercepted three times in the Panthers' 34-13 loss to New Orleans Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers dropped to 2-1 while New Orleans improved to 1-2.

Drew Brees is pushing 40, but there’s plenty left in his right arm.

The New Orleans quarterback was at his efficient and proficient best in leading the Saints to a 34-13 win Sunday against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers, who held San Francisco and Buffalo without a touchdown in the first two games, were outgunned by the Saints (1-2) and Brees, who connected on 22-of-29 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

“We came out with more intensity and a sense of urgency,” said Saints receiver Michael Thomas, who caught seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. “We attacked them, we did not let them attack us. We played confident football, and made a lot of huge plays on offense and defense. That’s Saints football and that is what we have been waiting for.”

After failing to score a touchdown last week against Buffalo, Carolina (2-1) managed one – Cam Newton’s 3-yard run in the third quarter to close the gap to 24-13. It wasn’t nearly enough, though, as the Saints victimized Cam Newton with a pair of interceptions that slammed the door on any shot the Panthers had of mounting a rally.

“You can’t beat an explosive offense like this by kicking field goals,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

Said receiver Devin Funchess, who who grabbed four passes for 58 yards: “We didn’t play Panther football. On the offensive side I can’t speak for anybody. We’ll go in there, evaluate it tomorrow, fix everything we’ve got to fix and come back Wednesday ready to rock.”

Carolina has much to work on. Quarterback Cam Newton struggled again, hitting 17-of-26 passes for 167 yards and three interceptions for a rating of 43.8. He was also sacked four times. Brees, on the other hand, was sacked once and wasn’t intercepted in racking up a 131.4 rating.

“They were really mixing it up, giving us different looks with their pressure here and there on third downs,” receiver Curtis Samuel said. “They’ll play man, sometimes they’ll play that off-man where they have a guy just playing off and he’s sitting there waiting for you to create contact. So they switched it up a little bit out there and just gave us different looks.”

The Panthers receiving corps, which lost tight end last week to a broken foot, took another hit when Kelvin Benjamin (2 catches, 8 yards) was knocked out with a knee injury. Rivera said he’ll be evaluated Monday. Without a viable deep threat, Newton worked short routes, with running back Christian McCaffrey producing his first 100-yard receiving day as a professional with nine catches for 101 yards.

“We’ve got to keep pushing,” McCaffrey said. “We’ve got to keep our head up, it’s one game. A lot of people will probably be down on us and that’s fine with us because we’re a brotherhood. What matters is what is in this locker room. We’re going to do everything we can to get it fixed.”

 

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