Saints get defensive against Carolina

TODAY Sports

- The Carolina Panthers' season came to an end Sunday after falling to rival Saints, 31-26, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Saints: Move on to play at Minnesota in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

The importance of Klein's loss can not be overstated in terms of facing the Carolina Panthers in particular.

The 2017 campaign for the Saints has been fueled by a breakout season for the defense and the emergence of a record-setting duo in the backfield.

Obviously, the Saints will play with everything they have, but three players are going to be the X-factor in helping them win.

With two minutes left in the game, the Saints almost threw it away. Saints quarterback Drew Brees took a knee, and it was over. "I do believe I am the leader of this team and the team goes as I go".

The Saints caught another break from the refs before the drive even started when Mike Adams' fourth-down interception wasn't reviewed.

If this were in Carolina, the Panthers would have more of a chance, but Cam Newton is going to play similar to last week when he faces the Saints' defense.

After an incompletion, Newton was flagged for intentional grounding on second down, which not only cost the Panthers a down and 13 lost yards, but since the violation occurred in the game's final moments, Carolina lost 10 seconds from the game clock. Look for Brees to flourish, as the Saints score one more touchdown than the Panthers. When I heard the call, I said, 'Go make a play.

A victory was just a completion away by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who was looking like Joe Montana as he fought off a quick concussion protocol to go 7 of his first 8 passes in the fourth quarter for 156 yards with touchdowns of 14 and 56 yards to get Carolina within a touchdown of winning. After a pair of lackluster offensive series, Brees connected on an 80 yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr.

Jordan called the Saints' red-zone stops "huge".

Carolina had first downs at the New Orleans 15, 13, 27 and 10 in a span of five possessions and settled for four field goal attempts. It's done. We both got to the goal we've been trying to get to, and that's the playoffs. "Clearly we knew coming in that they were going to be a tough out". I definitely think it hurts with the communication in the huddle, it hurts with formations.

It was the fifth time the Panthers failed to reach the end zone after getting past the Saints' 25-yard line. Olsen got the payoff with a 14-yard slant, and Carolina had cut the deficit to 24-19 with 12:47 left. Olsen finished with eight catches for 107 yards and the touchdown. After two consecutive weeks of very bad offensive production and key injuries to the wide receivers corps, it seems Panthers fans are ready to throw in the towel.

Newton sat on the field near the sideline after the play, and while a new National Football League rule calls for players to be taken to the locker room to be evaluated for concussions if they appear to be struggling to stand, Newton said part of his helmet got pushed into his eyelid.

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