The Saints fly into Carolina today with home field advantage secured throughout the playoffs courtesy of the Vikings choking even more than we have at this vital juncture in the season. It makes this game something of a meaningless contest for the Saints in so far as Drew Brees is sitting it out along with any number of Saints starters. So the point of today is to see how the second stringers get on whilst resting the heart ahead of what promises to be an agonising game in 2 weeks.
The Panthers take the opening kick off and will start at their own 32.
1st down Panthers.
Jonathan Stewart takes the opening hand off and runs into the Saints front 4 for a gain of 1. 2nd and 9.
Stewart takes the next hand off makes a simple cut back and runs the length of the field for a touchdown of 67 yards. The Saints D over pursued the play and were left embaressed. Oh dear. Looks like it's going to be more of the same today.
Saints 0 Panthers 7
1st down Saints at the 35.
Mark Brunell comes in to make his first start since the 2006 season and completes 3 yards to Marques Colston. 2nd and 7.
Mike Bell takes a hand off and gets hammered for a gain of 1. 3rd and 6.
Brunell drops back and is hit on release so the ball goes incomplete. Jermon Bushrod again got beat. 4th and 6 so the Saints punt it 51 yards.
1st down Panthers at their own 9.
Stewart up the middle for no gain.
Stewart again but this time drags the pile for a gain of 8. 3rd and 1.
Stewart again on the hand offand just gets it according to the officials only.
1st down Panthers.
Moore to Mohamed and already I can't be bothered to keep this up all the way through the game. They got a first down out to the 37.
Next set of downs sees a couple of incompletions so the Panthers will punt.
Saints start their next possession at their own 11.
Bell run, Brunell airs his old arm but does not complete although a pen moves the chains anyway to the 21.
Reggie Bush makes a nice run out right for 11 or so. Brunell then hits Dinkins for a few before setting up a screen to Hamilton that picks up another 1st.
Mike Bell then takes 1 carry a good few before being dropped for a big loss on the next play. The drive was going so well until then as well. Reggie Bush tries to convert 3rd and 11 on a draw but the Saints fool no one so punt.
Panthers start at their own 9. 2 carries make 0 yard and brings a big smile to my face. That smile becomes a huge beaming laugh as Matt Moore rolls out on 3rd and 10, looses his feet and looses control of the ball on his way down coughing it up in the process to Anthony Hargrove who recovers in the end zone for a touchdown. Well done big man. That's his 2nd TD against the Panthers this season. Except the Panthers challenge and win it so ignore the above. The Panthers punt to Reggie Bush who returns it 30 yards to the Panthers 20 before the zebras pull it back for a blocking pen.
So the Saints start at their own 45 do nothing with it and then punt straight back.
The Panthers start at their own 12. 1st 2 plays and the Saints D looks totally different by gang tackling runners at the line. Impressive. 3rd and 7, will the Saints hold? Yes they do as the Panthers run it and Jabari Greer makes a great tackle for only a gain of 1. Good showing by the Saints D as the Panther punt and Reggie Bush fair catches near midfield.
Brunell rolls out and completes to Dinkins to end the 1st Quarter.