Saints beat Panthers in nail-biter, advance to 2-3.

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Oct 16, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Sterling Moore (24) celebrates an interception against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Sterling Moore (24) celebrates an interception against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Saints have their first win streak of 2016. It wasn’t pretty.

The Saints beat the Panthers, 41 to 38, on a last minute, 52-yard FG by rookie kicker Will Lutz. Carolina had tied the game on a 2-point conversion with just under 3 minutes to play. With the game tied, Brees managed to march the team down the field, despite being sacked on the first play of the possession. Lutz had missed from 53 earlier in the game, but he nailed the game winner with plenty of space to spare. This was the first career game winner for Lutz, who has been highly touted by Sean Payton, but who missed a 61-yard potential go-ahead FG against Oakland in week one.

It was a big game for the Saints tight ends. Coby Fleener scored two remarkable touchdowns: his first carry in his NFL career was a jet sweep for 2 yards and a TD. Then, in the second half, he snagged a ball that may have been meant for Willie Snead and took it to the house for 50 yards. Finally, Josh Hill, who had a bad drop earlier in the game, caught an 8-yard TD that was originally ruled incomplete before Payton challenged. It was a great catch.

Blown lead

So the Saints got their win. But frankly, the game should not have come down to Lutz. New Orleans opened up the game with a 21 point lead, but very nearly squandered the advantage. Despite a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers managed to put up 38 points. Including 21 in the fourth quarter. After pulling a win out of the jaws of defeat last game against the Chargers, it felt like fate might be turning against the Saints this week.

The Panthers were able to get back in the game primarily off of penalty yards. The Saints surrendered 126 yards on 10 penalties, two of which were PI calls in the end zone. With their hobbled secondary, there’s going to be some mistakes made in pass coverage. But the Saints need to clean that up regardless. The hopefully impending return of Delvin Breaux should help matters.

Injuries

Most concerning coming out of the game is the groin injury to Andrus Peat. Peat went down at the end of the second half, and his replacement Tony Hills played poorly in his absence. If Terron Armstead is not able to return next week, the Saints will be direly thin at tackle. Expect Khalif Barnes to return to the roster this week.
Sterling Moore also left the game in the second half, and did not return. His replacement, Brian Dixon, was targeted often with success. The Saints can’t afford to lose Moore on top of all the injuries at CB.

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