Saints march on after 31-26 win over Panthers

Saints march on after 31-26 win over Panthers

And obviously, you don't just look at the games you played them.

But Newton, who was sacked four times and hit six more, kept coming, even after a David Onyemata sack seemingly knocked him from the game.

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers each are getting starting offensive linemen back for their early round playoff matchup.

With its running game stalled, the Saints turned to Brees and he delivered.

Bell provided coverage of a third-down incompletion from Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to wide receiver Devin Funchess.

"Yeah, I wanted to play Carolina because I want to see how they operate", Lattimore said. "I thought that maybe somebody had stuck a finger in my eye".

"I just have to be better", he added.

"I feel like it was kind of taken away from us". Defensive end Cameron Jordan then joined Bell in bring Newton to the ground.

Yet despite the offensive struggles for most of the game, the Panthers still had a chance to pull it out when Brees and Payton chose to gamble on fourth down at the Carolina 47 yard line with under two minutes to go, knowing a first down would seal the victory.

In the National Football League money exchange, touchdowns trump field goals, and that's exactly what the Saints did in taking a 21-9 halftime lead over the Panthers: three touchdowns to three field goals.

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Newton had to leave Carolina's next series after taking a hard hit, and when he came back into the game, the Panthers trailed by 12 again. "The ball was spread around quite a bit and guys were making plays when they had the chances". Newton returned to the field and needed only three plays to send the Panthers back into the end zone, courtesy of a defense-breaking 56-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey.

Thomas said when he noticed the Panthers playing with one safety deep instead of their usual two, "you're licking your chops with a quarterback like Drew Brees and the talent we have".

"(The Panthers) were going to be a tough out...and we knew it was going to be a challenge", Saints coach Sean Payton said. Richardson spent time in the Panthers' locker room following the game. Gutekunst has been Green Bay's player personnel director for almost two years, though he has been with the Packers' player personnel department for almost two decades.

With the Panthers in position for their first lead, Newton was called for intentional grounding, which cost 13 yards, a loss of down and a 10-second runoff. Placekicker Graham Gano could have given the Panthers an early lead, but he missed a 25-yard field goal, just his second missed field goal this season.

Newton wound up completing 24 of 40 passes for 349 yards.

Whether it was injuries to receivers like Damiere Byrd and Curtis Samuel (who combined on the season for 25 receptions for 225 yards) or one last insult from former general manager Dave Gettleman, who pinched every penny he could, the fact remains that Newton does not have the receivers he needs to succeed. Gano had made 29-of-30 kicks before that miss, and his only failed attempt had come from 55 yards out.

Newton would get back up and start walking off the field, but before he reached the sideline he fell to the turf and appeared to be out of it.

Ron Rivera said he did not get an explanation from the officials...

Panthers had a golden opportunity to win the game on a touchdown.