The Panthers played exactly the kind of game they had to play to beat the Saints tonight. It was a slow, prodding, defensive affair—the exact kind of game that Ron Rivera loves—but it wasn’t quite enough to get them over the edge as they fell to the Saints in a 12-9 loss that was way more insane than anyone thought it would be.
The defense played out of their minds for most of the evening, only allowing a few big plays here and there over the course of the game, but they made up for those errors by coming up with key momentum shifting plays of their own in an extremely strong effort against one of the NFL’s elite offenses. Full credit where it’s due: the Panthers held the Saints to just 12 points. That’s an immense achievement that they should be proud to earn.
It’s really a shame that the offense couldn’t pick up the slack and give the Panthers more than seven points. (The defense scored two points on an extremely entertaining pick-two by Donte Jackson, who proved that he can absolutely fly in open space.)
It’s hard to play the blame game after seeing the Panthers lose a close game to a clearly superior opponent, but the offense truly let the team down tonight. This is going to be an unpopular opinion but Cam Newton needs to sit for the remainder of the season. His shoulder is clearly gone at this point, and the Panthers are actually harming him by putting him out there when he’s clearly not 100 percent. Hell, he’s not even 75 percent at this point. It’s bad y’all, and honestly it’s time to see Taylor Heinicke for the last two games.
The Panthers have less than a one percent chance to make the playoffs after losing tonight. They can’t earn back-to-back winning seasons. There’s clearly nothing left to play for other than pride, so there’s no reason to keep running him out there when they can begin the process of getting his shoulder prepared for 2019.
I’m extremely pleased with the effort and fight that I saw from the defense tonight, but I’m just as disappointed in the offense for their lack of execution, bad penalties, and turnovers at the worst possible times. The Panthers defense deserved to win this game, and it’s a shame that the offense prevented them from doing so.
The Panthers will try to salvage this season with back-to-back games against the Falcons and Saints. At this point I’m not sure if they have anything left in the tank, but they can at least try to add to the Falcons’ misery and spoil the Saints’ effort to lock up the No. 1 seed in Week 17. If they can do that and finish 8-8, it would remove some of the stench from this dreadful season and at least give us a bit of hope heading into 2019. At this point, that’s all we can really ask for.
FINAL SCORE: Panthers 9 - Saints 12
And Cam’s pass to Ian Thomas is incomplete. That will do it.
It’s 4th down at the 40. This isn’t good.
It’s now 3rd down after an incomplete pass.
The Panthers spike it with 1:03 remaining. 2nd down.
CMC gets the first down but the clock is running.
The call stands! The Panthers have a chance!
James Bradberry forced that fumble, by the way.
TURNOVER: The Saints fumble it out of the end zone and the Panthers have the ball at their own 20 after the touchback. The play will be reviewed.
Timeout Panthers. 1:51 left.
Kamara is stopped again. 3rd down.
Ingram is stopped. 2nd down.
TWO MINUTE WARNING: Panthers 9 - Saints 12
Kamara picks up the first down. Sigh.
Captain Munnerlyn stops the play just short of a 1st down, but it’s 4th and inches and the Saints will go for it.
This is a huge 3rd and 10 play.
HUGE tackle by Kuechly to tackle Kamara behind the line of scrimmage. He probably saved a touchdown there.
The Panthers should stop putting linebackers in coverage against Michael Thomas.
The Saints are exposing the Panthers’ zone defense now. They should change things up.
Taysom Hill gets called for holding, proving that he can in fact make a mistake.
And of course Brees throws it 19 yards to Kirkwood for a first down at midfield. Sigh.
SACK: Captain Munnerlyn comes on a corner blitz and sacks Brees on 2nd down. It’s now 3rd and long. GET OFF THE FIELD DEFENSE!
A penatly on the Saints pushes them back five yards.
Palardy’s punt was bad and the Saints have decent field position at their own 30-ish yard line with a three point lead in the 4th quarter. I think it’s obvious, but the defense needs a stop here.
And Cam gets sacked on third down and the drive appears to be over. Sigh.
The hold was... questionable at best.
Cam picks up another first down but Trai Turner is called for a hold that negates the run.
Cam finds CMC for 22 yards and a critical first down. The Panthers are at midfield and absolutely need to score on this drive.
TOUCHDOWN SAINTS: Kamara sprints to the end zone for the 16 yard score. The two point conversion is INTERCEPTED BY DONTE JACKSON, WHO RETURNS IT FOR TWO POINTS. WOW. The Saints now have the lead, but only by three. Panthers 9 - Saints 12
The Saints are in field goal range and driving. The defense needs to step it up now.
END OF 3RD QUARTER: Panthers 7 - Saints 6
Luke Kuechly is everywhere tonight. He stops Kamara behind the line of scrimmage on first down.
Donte Jackson gets called for a brutal pass interference. Ball looked uncatchable to me.
SACK: Vernon Butler and Shaq Thompson get to Brees and take him down. 2nd and 18.
To make matters worse, A.J. Klein recovered the fumble.
The Panthers run an inside draw to Moore and he picks up a ton of yards, but he fumbles the ball at the end and the Saints recover it. Sigh.
The call is overturned and the Panthers have a first down. The Panthers now have a third challenge due to winning the first two.
Ron Rivera is challenging the call. He should be right but these challenges are always weird. It looked like Cam picked up the first down though.
It’s 4th and inches at midfield.
Cam hits Jarius Wright for a huge nine yard gain and a first down.
Morestead punts it inside the 10 yard line but there’s a flag on the play. It’s on the Saints and the Panthers take the five extra yards.
Brees finds Thomas but Reid blows him up before he can pick up the first down. Panthers dodge a bullet there.
The Panthers blow up a screen to Kamara and it’s quickly 3rd and 18.
The Panthers force a punt, but it looks like they roughed the kicker and gave the Saints a first down. Yikes. David Mayo was the guilty party.
The defense bats down another Brees pass. Julius Peppers with the play this time.
Cam Newton has been bad tonight, but a bum shoulder will do that to a quarterback.
Aaand the Panthers go three-and-out. Sigh.
And a false start penalty on Curtis Samuel makes it 3rd and 12.
The Panthers quickly find themselves in a 3rd and 7 situation after two not-so-good plays.
Jackson forces another incompletion and the Panthers defense gets off the field.
The call is confirmed and the Saints lose a timeout. It’s 3rd and 10.
Brees finds Watson wide open down the seam but Donte Jackson breaks up the play. The Saints are challenging that it’s not an incomplete pass.
Brees finds Thomas for 20 yards but there are offsetting personal fouls on Thomas and Bradberry that negates the play.
After two quick plays the Saints have a first down.
The Saints will receive the kickoff to begin the second half.
HALFTIME: Panthers 7 - Saints 6
The Saints take a knee and that does it for the first half.
TURNOVER: Cam is picked off in the end zone by Eli Apple. Devin Funchess was the intended receiver.
Cam weaves his way to a first down after avoiding a sack. 0:23 left, 1st and 10.
The Panthers have gotten into field goal range with 0:40 left.
TURNOVER: The Panthers force Brees to make a bad throw and it’s tipped into the air and picked off by James Bradberry. He returns it to midfield.
TWO MINUTE WARNING: Panthers 7 - Saints 6
After two straight bad plays the Panthers have to punt. The Saints have the ball at midfield with around two minutes left in the half. The defense should get a stop here imo.
The Panthers offensive line found a way to commit a holding penalty and still give up a sack. That’s both interesting and terrible.
The Panthers take over on offense with a 7-6 lead late in the 2nd quarter.
Eric Reid gets in on the good work, forcing another incompletion and a 4th and long situation. The Saints will punt.
And Munnerlyn follows that by batting down another pass for another incompletion. If Munnerlyn were two inches taller it could have been intercepted.
Captain Munnerlyn does a good job of standing in the way of Brees’ pass to Kamara, forcing an incompletion downfield.
The Saints are flagged for unnecessary roughness that sets them back 15 yards. They had already picked up the first down, though... so all it does is cost them yards. 1st and 10.
The Panthers needed a big stop on 3rd down, and spoiler alert: they did not get it.
The Panthers pick up a first down but not much else after they can’t convert on third and long.
FIELD GOAL SAINTS: Lutz is good from 24 yards. I’ll take that result. Panthers 7 - Saints 6
The Panthers force another field goal attempt.
And of course they pick up the first down. Sigh.
The Panthers stuff the Saints on the quarterback sneak to force a 4th down, but a false start penalty costs the Saints 5 yards and it’s now 3rd and 6.
A tight end screen gives them another 14 yards and another first down.
The Saints put Taysom Hill in at quarterback and he hands it off to Kamara, who just barely picks up a first down.
END OF 1ST QUARTER: Panthers 7 - Saints 3
The Panthers win the challenge and the Saints only gain around 30 yards on the play. That’s good, right?
Aaaand Brees—who has all day to throw—finds Benjamin Watson for 43 yards. Watson caught the pass, fell to the turf, got up and kept running. The Panthers are challenging the play because it looks like Watson was down around 15 yards further back than he ended up.
The Saints start at their own 25 after MVPalardy’s punt is fair caught.
The Panthers go three-and-out on their next drive.
FIELD GOAL SAINTS: Lutz’s kick is good. Panthers 7 - Saints 3
Luke Kuechly bats Brees’ pass down to force a 4th down situation. The Saints will attempt a field goal.
And then Ingram picks up 23 yards after bowling over Eric Reid.
Aaand then Kamara returns the kickoff to midfield.
The XP is good. Panthers 7 - Saints 0
TOUCHDOWN PANTHERS! CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY THREW A TOUCHDOWN PASS TO CHRIS MANHERTZ AND I DON’T KNOW IF I’LL LET GO OF MY CAPS LOCK KEY FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT. HOLY CRAP WHAT A PLAY!
ALL ABOARD THE RIVERBOAT
Cam fires a rocket to D.J. Moore, who tries to pick up the first down but can’t quite get there. It’s 4th down.
Cam finds Samuel for a huge gain on 3rd and long, and the Saints also commit a roughing the passer penalty to add 15 yards to the play. The Panthers went from 3rd and long on their own 10 to 1st and 10 at their own 45. Big play.
The Panthers will start around their own 10 yard line after the Saints forced a fair catch on the punt.
THE PANTHERS GOT A STOP ON THIRD DOWN!
It’s 3rd and 6. Hold on to your butts.
Again, Brees weaves around the defense and finds Michael Thomas for a first down. But hey, there’s a flag on the field for offensive pass interference so the play doesn’t count. Take that, Saints!
The Panthers forced a 3rd and 5, but then gave up a 21-yard play. So nothing has changed, in case you were wondering.
Now the Saints have the ball for the first time tonight. Hold your breath, y’all.
That sack brings up 3rd and 15, and the Panthers can’t convert. The punt unit is out.
Cam bobbles the snap and then gets sacked immediately. That’s bad.
CMC broke the franchise record for most yards from scrimmage tonight. That’s cool.
CMC picks up another first down. The offense is doing a great job moving the ball so far.
Ian Thomas moves the chains on 2nd down after a Christian McCaffrey run. The Panthers didn’t go three-and-out!
The opening kickoff is out of the end zone for a touchback.
The Panthers will receive the opening kickoff after the Saints win the coin toss.
It’s game day, y’all! Stay tuned for live updates starting at 8:15 p.m. ET tonight!
The Panthers are back home for a critical game against the Saints that will either allow them to remain hopeful of stealing a playoff spot or put the final nail in the 2018 season’s coffin on national television. The Panthers have lost five straight games and the Saints are 11-2, so on paper this one doesn’t look very promising, but the game isn’t played on paper so literally anything can happen.
Here’s all the information you need to follow the action as it happens live.
Game day information
When: Monday, December 17 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
TV: ESPN; Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon, Jim Szoke, Eugene Robinson, Kevin Donnalley
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Luis Moreno Jr
Weather: 61°/33° / Sunny / 7 mph W wind / 10% precip. (Complete forecast)
You can download the official Panthers app to get live score updates during the game straight to your phone. Also, if you live in the NC/SC market you can listen to the live radio broadcast of every game with the app. You can find the Panthers app in your phone’s app store or you can download the app here.
FuboTV: You can stream and record live NFL games on FuboTV if you purchase a monthly subscription to their service.
NFL GamePass: You can stream all NFL regular season games on demand if you purchase NFL Game Pass*. It’s a little pricey at $99, but it also includes access to All-22 film. If you’re just desperate to watch the Panthers game there is a 7-day free trial, but sign up at your own risk if you’re one of those people who forgets to cancel before the free trial is over.
*Note: You cannot watch regular season games live with this option. You have to wait until after the games are over before you can stream them.
NFL Network will air condensed replays of a selected group of regular season games throughout the week. To see if/when the Panthers’ game will be replayed, you can check NFL Network’s television schedule for more information.
Roaring Riot Watch Parties
If you’re unable to watch the game via live tv or streaming, or if you prefer to watch in the company of fellow Panthers fans, check out the Roaring Riot to see if there is a watch party in your area. Membership is not required to get in the door, but if you’re interested in purchasing a membership you can find all the information you need here.
The Panthers will wear black uniforms for this game.
If you’re into that sort of thing, you can find info on NFL game odds by clicking here.
Stay tuned for a live update thread when the game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday!
Panthers next two opponents
Week 16: vs Atlanta Falcons; Sun, Dec 23, 1 p.m. ET
Week 17: at New Orleans Saints; Sun, Dec 30, 1 p.m. ET