Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
After a couple of first-quarter turnovers, it looked like the New Orleans Saints were in for a long night. However, the offense overcame and the defense stepped up and dominated to help the Black and Gold defeat the Carolina Panthers and snap a seven-game road losing streak via a 28-10 victory.
To begin the game, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram and the Saints’ offense drove right down the field for what looked like an early lead, but the Pro Bowl quarterback threw a questionable pass to WR Kenny Stills that took a bad bounce and landed in the hands of Panthers’ DT Dwan Edwards.
No worries though, as the defense kept Carolina from scoring off the takeaway. The Saints eventually conquered their early-game errors, including another Brees turnover, and put up two touchdowns on the board to take a 14-0 halftime lead.
The first score went to Ingram for a three-yard run, following a strip sack of Cam Newton by OLB Junior Galette that put the Saints inside the five-yard line. The defense stepped up again, forcing a three-and-out on Carolina with the clock stopping for the two-minute warning on fourth down, giving New Orleans plenty of time to move down the field.
With six seconds left to go in the half, Brees found TE Jimmy Graham for a one-yard touchdown after the Panthers were called for a defensive pass interference in the end zone that resulted in a huge third-down gain all the way down to the one-yard line for New Orleans.
With the third quarter getting underway, the Black and Gold seemed to have everything under control, but Carolina quickly answered right back with a nice drive to open the half, resulting in a ten-yard touchdown run by Newton.
It was all good though — the Saints answered back with a drive that took almost half of the quarter off the clock, ending with a quarterback sneak up the middle for a Drew Brees score. Stout play by the defense got the ball back into the hands of New Orleans’ offesne, but the Panthers stepped up to force a punt.
With the ball back in Newton’s hands, he found WR Jerricho Cotchery for a 47-yard pass and catch, but after a few unsuccessful plays, Carolina was held to only a field goal. The Saints, again, took a huge chunk of time off the clock with a drive that resulted in another Mark Ingram Score. Another Saints defensive stop packed with a couple of sacks sealed the deal at 28-10.
Leaving out the early turnovers, it was an all-around exceptional performance by the entire Saints team. The offense finished with 375 total yards (270 passing, 105 rushing), while the defense held the Panthers to only 231 total yards (122 passing, 109 rushing).
Brees finished 24 of 34 for 297 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing score and one interception. Ingram was given a career-high 30 carries, plummeting through for 100 yards on the ground and finding the end zone twice. Jimmy Graham led with seven catches for 83 yards and a score, followed by Kenny Stills with five and 72.
Defensively, S Rafael Bush led the way with six tackles, while OLB Junior Galette led the sacks category with two. To top it off, defensive ends Cam Jordan and Akiem Hicks both took down Cam once as well. don’t worry, I did not forget about Corey White‘s interception in the second quarter.
The boys are back after two consecutive, dominating performances on the field. The NFC South now belongs to the Saints at the moment, and with three home games in a row, it can only get better from here. Next up is the San Francisco 49ers, so let’s see if Sean Payton and company can keep the momentum on their side.