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Panthers at Saints Final Score: Panthers struggle on all levels, drop their 4th loss 31-21

The Carolina Panthers suffered another beating by the New Orleans Saints.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers lost a game they could have won. But that’s too often been the story with the 2017 Panthers; missed opportunities. The Saints came out and made less mistakes and more big plays, bottom line. The Panthers still have some control of their fate for the playoffs but this loss puts them into the wild card race, in a crowded one at that.

Takeaways

  • Luke Kuechly continues to be a god at linebacker. Most of their linebackers struggled today but when Kuechly got his hands on the running back, they went down.
  • Christian McCaffery did everything he could on limited touches, including a touchdown reception from Cam Newton. Stewart once again got more rushing attempts than anyone else, and despite his stat line he was not efficient. Carolina needs to find a way to kick start the power rushing attack (aside from Cam), whether Stewart or somebody else does it.
  • The Panthers all around struggled today. The defense couldn’t stop the run, surrendering season highs in the first half against the Saints. The Panthers offense dropped passes, turned the ball over, and missed opportunities to score. Collectively, this team didn’t look like one that could hang with a legit playoff contender.

The game started with a long drive by the Saints, capped off by a 2 yard touchdown rush by Alvin Kamara. The Panthers answered with a long drive of their own and a 2 yard touchdown rush by Jonathan Stewart to match. The teams then traded two punts apiece, until a 72 yard rush by Mark Ingram helped the Saints find the endzone again, this time on a 3 yard rush by Mark Ingram. The Panthers then had a 3 and out, however the ball was turned over after a dropped punt by Michael Palardy to give the Saints great field position. Drew Bress found Michael Thomas for a 10 yard TD to give the Saints a 21-7 lead. The offense continued to struggle, and was forced to punt. The defense finally made a play however as Michael Adams punched the ball out of Josh Hill’s hands. The Panthers capitalized with a 21 yard TD pass to Christian McCaffery. The Panthers held the Saints out of scoring position and ran out the clock to end the half down 14-21.

The Panthers got the ball back to start the half, but after a frustrating miss of a neutral zone infraction by the refs, Cam took a sack on 3rd down forcing a punt. The Saints again scored off the legs of Alvin Kamara on a 20 yard scamper. The offense again sputtered and had to punt, which allowed the Saints to again get into scoring range. The Panthers caught a break though as Will Lutz missed a 38 yard field goal, keeping the game within two scores at 28-14 as the 3rd quarter ended.

The Panthers started off the 4th quarter with a promising drive, bringing them to the redzone. However, when forced to 4th down Cam Newton threw a pass to Devin Funchess short of the 1st. Funchess couldn’t convert, and the Panthers turned it over on downs. The defense rallied and forced a punt from the New Orleans’ six yard line, but Kaelin Clay fumbled on the punt. The Saints drove the ball and kicked a field goal to put them up 31-14. The Panthers were able to respond with a touchdown drive off a 24 yard catch and run by Devin Funchess, putting the score at 21-31. The Panthers tried an onside kick, but Devin Funchess unfortunately touched out of bounds while trying to push the ball back in bounds and gave the Saints the ball back.