Saints Suffer Another Agonizing Loss, Panthers Prevail
Offense is important, and so is defense, but losing a game on special teams might hurt the worst. The Saints lost to the Panthers, 23-20, and it's a tough pill to swallow.
New Orleans outgained the Panthers, 371 to 223 on offense, and they held Carolina to only 50 yards rushing. The Panthers only converted one first down in the fourth quarter, but it was all they needed. Special teams let the Saints down, in a major way.
At the end of the first half, the Saints were down 13-3 with a chance to bite into the lead. Wil Lutz lined up for a kick, and a nightmare from last week replayed in front of the fans' eyes: the kick was blocked, and Carolina returned it all the way for a touchdown. A penalty called the return back, but the Panthers still ended up punching the ball into the endzone. It was the difference in the game, without a doubt.
Drew Brees made the game a lot closer in the second half with two TD passes to Brandon Coleman and Coby Fleener, but it wasn't enough. All Carolina needed was a kick from Graham Gano to make the score 23-20, which is how the scoreboard read at the end of the game. The defense played great, but it wasn't enough.
Carolina only scored on one drive in the second half, and all the rest of their possessions ended in punts. The defense gave Brees a chance, but the offense came up with too little too late.
It's hard to overlook the redzone efficiency. The Saints' drove 74 yards in 14 plays on their first drive, but they had to settle for a field goal inside the 10-yard line. It wasn't the last possession of the game, but it carried the same weight as the last.
Inefficiencies and inadequacies are easy to address but hard to deal with. With the loss, the Saints fall to 4-6 overall. It's a gut punch to New Orleans' playoff hopes and a devastating blow to a fan base that suffered two losses in five days.
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