Deke Bellavia - Saints 31-13 - Feeling better now?
Man, a week ago the Saints got busted in the mouth by the Seahawks…and that’s putting it lightly. The best thing to do after getting beat down is to give a beat down. And that is just what the Black & Gold did on Sunday night football.
The Saints beat down, busted up and battered the hottest team in the NFL in a 31-13 win over Carolina. Last week’s embarrassing loss, delayed plane ride home and adjusted work week had no effects this week’s Saints gladiator like performance.
Carolina got off to a good start, jumping out to a 6-0 lead over the Saints. But the Saints defense’s ability to make the Cats go for three’s instead of seven’s early on was huge. The Panthers drove the ball all the way down to the Saints 26 yard line…then the Saints defense stiffened. Carolina was set up first and 10 at the Saints 26 yard line early in the game. The Saints defense shut them down--a 1st and 10 turned into a 4th and 11. Carolina was forced to kick a field goal.
Then later in the first quarter the Saints D came up big again. Carolina had a 1st and 10 at the Saints 10 yard line. The Black & Gold defense allowed just four yards. Carolina was forced to kick another field goal. Even though the Panthers led 6-0 the Saints defense sent a message to Carolina that yards in the red zone would be hard to come by.
Carolina gained 79 yards on 22 plays and scored six points on their first two offensive possessions. However, after that the Saints completely shut the Panthers offense down. On their final eight offensive possessions the Panthers gained just 160 yards on 40 plays and scored just seven points.
On the flip side, the Saints offense went on a 31-7 run to come up with their 10th win of the season. The message sent to Carolina and the rest of the league is the same message that this franchise has sent over the last eight years…you will not come into our house and beat us. It ain’t gonna happen!
What a difference a week makes, right? The Saints have now taken a big step forward in landing the NFC South crown and the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Saints need to win two of their last three games to accomplish both feats. As I said in my Saints/Panthers preview--all the Saints can control is what they can control. New Orleans lost control of a possible #1 seed last week in their loss to Seattle. The Saints determined not to lose control a second straight week.
The Saints got after Carolina QB Cam Newton. Newton was pressured and harassed all night long. Cam was sacked five times Sunday night in the Superdome. After starting the game 3-for-3 on third down conversions, the Saints defense allowed the Panthers to go just 3-for-12 on their remaining third down tries.
So, now it’s on to the Rams Sunday in St. Louis. Yes, we will see the Panthers again in two weeks, but right now the Saints feel better about where they are. Way better. And, so does the Who Dat Nation.