The Panthers came into today’s game with hopes to end their season on a high note while also playing spoiler by preventing the Saints from having any chance of securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC. That’s not what happened. In fact, the exact opposite happened.
The Panthers looked like garbage, and lost the season finale 33-7 to drop their final record to 5-11, matching their final win-loss tally from last season. The Panthers simply couldn’t get anything going on offense thanks to five turnovers, including two interceptions in the end zone from Teddy Bridgewater, and the Saints did what they usually do when they play against the Panthers by putting up a bunch of points.
Both Teddy Bridgewater and PJ Walker were terrible in this game, and the Panthers simply cannot be confident that they have the answer at quarterback on the roster. Their 5-11 record will assure them at worst the No. 9 pick in the draft, so they need to seriously look at all the quarterback prospects during the offseason and find a better option than what they currently have.
The 2020 season is mercifully over for the Panthers, but now the real work begins as they try to improve their team during the offseason to take the giant step needed in Year 2 of the Rhule rebuild process. I still think they’ll be a team to contend with in the near future, and I believe some building blocks were created this season even if the final record wasn’t what we hoped it would be.
We just have to have hope that everything’s going to work out OK, because it’s really the only thing we can do.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 7 Saints 33
The Saints scored a touchdown on the first play of the quarter to extend their lead. The extra point was good to give the Saints a 33-7 lead with 14:55 left in the game.
The Panthers failed to pick up a first down on fourth-and-7 to extend their drive and gave the ball back to the Saints at their own 20-yard line with 10:49 left in the quarter.
The Panthers were threatening to score after two nice throws from Walker — one to Robby Anderson and one to DJ Moore — but then their hopes were dashed when Walker threw his second interception of the day with 4:05 left in regulation.
Jameis Winston came into the game for the Saints on their next drive, but he wasn’t able to move the ball and the Saints had to punt the ball back to the Panthers with 2:23 left in the game. The Panthers took over on offense with no real chance to win the game but did have a chance to make the score look a little better, but those hopes were dashed when Walker threw an interception on the first play of the drive to give the ball right back to the Saints.
The Saints mercifully ran out the remaining 2:13 of the game clock and ended the Panthers’ season at 5-11 and a top-ten draft pick to look forward to.
Third quarter: Panthers 7 Saints 26
The Panthers started the second half on defense and forced the Saints to settle for a field goal after standing strong on third-and-6. Will Lutz was good from 48 yards to extend the Saints’ lead to 19-7 with 11:49 left in the quarter.
The Panthers were driving down the field in response to the Saints’ opening drive, but their plans were foiled by another Bridgewater interception in the end zone. The Saints took over on their own 20-yard line with a 19-7 lead and 9:35 left in the quarter.
The Panthers defense did a good job shutting down the Saints offense and forced them to punt to keep the game at a manageable deficit. The Panthers pulled Bridgewater out of the game in favor of PJ Walker for their next drive. Walker didn’t look much better than Bridgewater and threw an interception on his second pass of the game to give the Saints the ball back with good field position.
The Saints took advantage of the turnover and scored a touchdown when Taysom Hill called his own number from three yards out and walked into the end zone. The extra point was good and the Saints extended their lead to 26-7 with 4:56 left in the quarter.
The Panthers went three-and-out on the following drive and had to punt the ball right back to the Saints with 4:30 left in the quarter, and the Saints offense took the field looking to extend their lead even further. The Saints offense ran out the rest of the clock on the third quarter before scoring and took a 26-7 lead into the game’s final quarter.
Second quarter: Panthers 7 Saints 16
The Panthers opened the second quarter on offense and immediately faced a fourth-and-1 situation where they elected to go for it instead of punting the ball back to the Saints. Running back Rodney Smith was able to bulldoze his way through the line to pick up the first down and keep the drive alive.
The Panthers almost scored the go-ahead touchdown on a deep pass into the end zone to DJ Moore, but he couldn’t quite come down with it. A few plays after a failed challenge on that play, Bridgewater threw an interception in the end zone to give the ball back to the Saints and keep the game tied at 7-7 with 10:37 left in the half.
The Saints drove down the field and took the lead when Brees found Emmanuel Sanders in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good and the Saints extended their lead to 13-7 with 8:12 left in the half.
The Panthers drove down the field again but were unable to convert on fourth-and-1 at the Saints 20-yard line and turned the ball over on downs without cutting into the deficit. The score remained 13-7 Saints with 2:52 left in the half after the Panthers lost possession.
The Saints drove down the field but were unable to find the end zone. They settled for a field goal as time expired on the half to go up 16-7 at halftime.
First quarter: Panthers 7 Saints 7
The Panthers started the game on offense and promptly went three-and-out after failing to get anything going with their first three plays. The Saints offense were given great field position after the Panthers had to punt deep inside their own territory on fourth-and-21.
The Saints drove straight down the field and scored the game’s first touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Drew Brees to Jared Cook. The extra point was good and the Saints jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 9:04 left in the quarter.
The Panthers weren’t able to get anything going on their next drive and had to punt the ball back to the Saints again. The Panthers defense did a good job at containing the Saints and forcing them to punt, with Efe Obada getting a key sack on third down to force the Saints to give the ball back to Carolina.
The Panthers finally put a drive together and found a way to get into the end zone to tie the game after a Rodney Smith touchdown run. Joey Slye’s extra point was good and the Panthers tied the game at 7-7 with 1:40 left in the quarter.
The Panthers defense did their job on the next Saints drive and forced New Orleans to punt the ball back to Carolina’s offense. Tre Boston picked up a sack on third down after Jermaine Carter just missed an interception a few plays earlier.
Game day information
What: Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints
When: Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
TV: FOX; Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth (coverage map)
Streaming: FuboTV, FOX Sports Live (tv login req.), Yahoo! Sports, Panthers mobile app
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Antonio Ramos
Weather: 57° / Mostly Sunny / 9 mph W wind / 15% rain (complete forecast)
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