There have been some fierce battles between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers over the years. Of the 20 road contests against the Panthers, which were the best? We travel down memory lane to take a look at our personal top five.
No. 5 – November 30, 1997
Back in the days of Billy Joe Hobert, these two squared off as struggling ball clubs desperately needing a win. The Saints jumped out to a 13-3 lead by halftime, but Carolina rallied back in the 4th quarter to tie the game up. Sammy Knight had two of the Saints three interceptions on the day, and Ray Zellars had a superb outing for the black and gold, finishing with 95 yards on the ground and 58 yards receiving. Zellars also had a rushing touchdown.
In a very muddy affair, the Saints would find their 30th ranked offense march down the field with 1:10 left in the game to set up the game winning Doug Brien 46-yard field goal with just three seconds remaining. Perhaps the biggest insult to injury for the Panthers? Hobert was released by the Buffalo Bills on October 15, 1997 for not knowing plays, and signed with the Saints some 11 days before the game.
No. 4 – September 11, 2005
Football was far from many people’s minds along the Gulf Coast following the events of Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints tried to bring some sense of relief to their city by suiting up and playing football. Emotions were high, as head coach Jim Haslett read his team a letter from then New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, which talked about all of the things happening back home. The message and request were simple from those who lost everything: win us a football game.
The Saints would do just that, powered behind a pair of Deuce McAllister rushing touchdowns. The Saints defense overcame two botched Jake Delhomme interceptions in which they fumbled back to the Panthers, traded field goals in the final quarter, and then relied on John Carney to kick a 47-yard field goal with just seconds remaining to put the black and gold up for good 23-20. It was one of their three victories from the 2005 season.
No. 3 – November 7, 2010
It was simply a game that the Saints could do no wrong. It didn’t help that the Panthers dealt with three different quarterbacks on their end: Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, and Tony Pike. The Panthers would draw first blood with a 20-yard John Kasay field goal in the 1st quarter, and that’s all she wrote. The Saints would takeover from there, getting help from a running back corps of Julius Jones, Chris Ivory, and Ladell Betts that combined for 149 rushing yards.
The defense would finish with five sacks, held the Panthers offense to a measly 195 total yards of offense, and added a defensive touchdown courtesy of a Jabari Greer interception. It was the single most largest margin of victory for the Saints in their road history with the Panthers.
No. 2 – October 9, 2011
The Saints’ 2011 season was something special, as the team finished 13-3. However, playing on the road against the Panthers always posed a challenge for Sean Payton’s squad. Drew Brees threw for 359 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the manner in which he finished the game was what will always stand out in that contest.
The Saints would exchange scoring possessions with the Panthers early, and it looked like all momentum was seized by Carolina when Brees threw an interception late in the 3rd quarter. The Panthers would score to go up 27-23 early in the fourth quarter, and then the Saints would stall to give the Panthers back the ball. The Saints defense would make a stop, and then Drew Brees would take over with 7:06 to play in the game to lead the Saints on an 89-yard drive that was capped off by the go ahead 6-yard passing touchdown from Brees to Pierre Thomas.
No. 1 – October 4, 2001
The Saints were riding highs off of a stellar 2000 season, which saw them winning their first playoff game in franchise history. Early in their 2001 season, the black and gold would be tested with a struggling Panthers squad. The Saints would dominate this road contest behind a heavy dose of Ricky Williams (31 carries, 147 yards), but found themselves go from a 20-12 lead late in the 4th quarter to trailing 25-20 in a matter of minutes with the game winding down.
Aaron Brooks would help lead the Saints 82 yards in 13 plays with just 1:48 left. On the game’s final play, Ricky Williams was called upon to punch it into the end zone. However, it wasn’t in the typical fashion that many believed. From the 1-yard line, the Panthers defense stacked the line, and Brooks would toss it to Williams who went into the end zone untouched, thanks to huge blocks from Willie Roaf and Albert Connell.
Which was your favorite road win against the Panthers? Let us know!
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