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Bobby Hebert: Why was the game that close?

January 07, 2018 - 9:40 pm

Jordan Fiegel reporting

After the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 31-26, Bobby Hebert was left asking a question many Saints fans had as well.

"Why was the game that close?"

New Orleans held a 12 point lead going into the fourth quarter, but the game ended up coming down to the final seconds and required a defensive stand deep in Saint territory.

The Saints caught a bit of a break early on.  The Panthers drove all the way to the New Orleans 7 yard line, but the Saints defense stiffened.  Carolina kicker Graham Gano attempted a chip-shot 25 yard field goal, but it was no good.  The score remained knotted at 0-0 until Drew Brees uncorked an 80 yard touchdown pass to former-Panther Ted Ginn Jr.

"I thought it was going to be crucial for us to score first and never have to play from behind."

After going up 7-0 late in the first quarter, the Saints never relinquished the lead, always staying at least 4 points ahead.  Though they kept the lead, it was nip and tuck at times.  At the start of the fourth quarter, New Orleans was up 24-12.  A couple minutes later, that was cut to 24-19.  The Saints offense finally responded with what many thought was the dagger, a two yard touchdown rush by Alvin Kamara.  With just 5:12 remaining, the Saints were back up by 12.  It took under a minute of game time for Cam Newton to shred the Saints defense, connecting with versatile running back Christian McCaffrey on a 56 yard touchdown strike to cut it back to 31-26.

With the outcome again in question, the Saints offense need to move the ball and drain the clock.  The drive eventually stalled just inside Carolina territory, leading to a controversial call.  Hebert questioned Sean Payton's decision to go for it on 4th and 2.

"To me, that's a little too gutsy to go for it on 4th think with Thomas Morstead and how well he can punt, it's going to be inside the 10 yard going for it on 4th and 2, you might ask why the Saints would be that aggressive...but the bottom line is that to go for it, I don't think that wasn't a wise decision."

The Saints do rank #1 in fourth down conversions in the NFL, but they did not convert this one.  Panthers safety Mike Adams bailed them out with an interception, giving Carolina the ball back at their own 31 yard line instead of at their 47 yard line.

The Saints have a tough test ahead with a road trip up to Minnesota and a revenge match against the Vikings.  The Superdome was rocking on Sunday, making it more difficult for the Panthers; and the Cajun Cannon pointed out the Saints could face that kind of environment in their next game.

"Could we get a taste of our own medicine?  As loud as it was in the Superdome in our favor, it's going to be reversed.  But I think we have a veteran team that can handle that."

While Hebert says Minnesota will be favored, it's certainly no guarantee.

"The Vikings are that good defensively.  We're going to need our defense to be outstanding.  But it's one game, not a series.  We can pull off the upset."

Listen to the rest of Bobby Hebert's postgame comments below.

Bobby Hebert on Saints' win over Carolina

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