The New Orleans Saints came into the week with a record of 8-2. They were looking to extend their NFC South division lead over the Carolina Panthers. They were able to do so, beating the Panthers 34-31 with a game-winning field goal as time expired. The win improved their record to 9-2, giving them a four-game lead in the division over Carolina.
On the Saints’ initial drive of the game, Latavius Murray broke off a 26-yard touchdown run to put New Orleans up 7-0. On the Saints’ next offensive drive, Carolina forced a three-and-out. The Saints punted the ball to Carolina wide receiver and return man, D.J. Moore.
Moore had a teammate pushed into him, causing a fumble. The ball was recovered by the Saints’ J.T. Gray at the 13-yard line.
Drew Brees was able to capitalize on the excellent starting field position by throwing a 13-yard touchdown on the next play to Tre’Quan Smith. That pass gave the Saints a first-quarter lead of 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, Kyle Allen threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Moore, making it a 14-6 game in favor of New Orleans after Joey Slye missed the extra point.
Will Lutz kicked a field goal early in the second quarter to give the Saints 17-6 advantage.
The Panthers moved the ball methodically on their next drive, setting up Joey Slye for a 41-yard field goal. The kick closed the gap to 17-9. Carolina forced the Saints to punt and got the ball back with time to score. The Saints sacked Kyle Allen twice, but a penalty on Cameron Jordan that kept the Panthers drive alive. Kyle Allen was able to throw a one-yard touchdown to Christian McCaffrey as time expired in the first half. The attempted two-point conversion failed, making it a 17-15 game at halftime in favor of New Orleans.
At the start of the third quarter, the Saints drove the ball right down the field. The possession was capped off with Drew Brees’ second touchdown pass of the game, this time a 20-yarder to tight end Jared Cook. This score extended the New Orleans lead to 24-15.
On the following possession, Carolina answered with a 52-yard field goal by Joey Slye, once again narrowing the gap. It was now a 24-18 lead for the Saints.
The next drive was highlighted by a 20-yard pass from Brees to Cook, followed by a 30-yard run by Kamara. Those big plays set up the Saints for a first and goal from the Carolina three-yard line. Furthermore, the drive was capped off by a three-yard touchdown from Brees, his third of the day, to Michael Thomas.
This game quickly became a shootout. Christian McCaffrey scores his second touchdown of the day, this time a four-yard touchdown run on the following possession. Joey Slye missed his second extra point of the game, making it a 31-24 game with the Saints still ahead.
Drew Brees threw his first interception of the game when Carolina safety, Tre Boston, intercepted his pass. On the ensuing drive, Kyle Allen went deep to Curtis Samuel, but the ball was tipped, resulting in an interception by Vonn Bell in the end zone. However, safety Marcus Williams was called for pass interference, negating the interception and giving Carolina the ball on the Saints one-yard line.
At first, the Panthers weren’t able to capitalize, starting with first-and-goal from the one-yard line. After three unsuccessful attempts in the red zone, Carolina went for it on fourth and goal. Subsequently, Kyle Allen was able to find D.J. Moore in the back of the end zone, tying the score at 31 with under 10 minutes to go in the game.
On the Saints’ next possession, they were facing a fourth-and-inches from their own 45-yard line. New Orleans went for it, and Alvin Kamara was stuffed short, causing a turnover on downs.
The Panthers moved the ball methodically, trying to burn as much time off the clock as they could. On a third down and three play in the red zone, the Saints were called for defensive pass interference. That gave the Panthers a fresh set of downs inside the five-yard line.
With under two minutes to go in the game, Joey Slye missed a 28-yard go-ahead field goal. The missed kick gave the Saints the ball on their own 20-yard line with less than two minutes to win the game. Drew Brees was able to lead his team downfield, gaining enough yardage for Will Lutz to make a 33-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.
This game saw two of the league’s leading MVP candidates that are non-quarterbacks. Saints wide receiver, Michael Thomas, had ten catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey had 22 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown as well as nine catches for 69 yards and another touchdown.
Both quarterbacks had a big day. Kyle Allen went 23-36 for 256 yards and three touchdowns. On the other hand, Drew Brees went 30-39 for 311 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.
The Saints running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray had a good day. Murray carried the ball seven times for 64 yards and a touchdown while Kamara had 11 carries for 54 yards to go along with nine catches for 48 yards.
Panthers wideout, D.J. Moore, also had a good game. Despite fumbling a punt, he caught six passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Cook also had a nice outing, catching six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints sacked Kyle Allen four times. Linebacker Demario Davis recorded one of those sacks to go along with 11 tackles.
Michael Thomas Record Watch
Michael Thomas came into the game with an NFL high, 94 catches through 10 games. With 10 catches on the afternoon, Thomas became the fifth player in NFL history to have three straight seasons with 100+ catches and 1,200+ receiving yards.
He is now on pace for 151 receptions this year, enough to break the record of 143, set by Indianapolis Colts Hall-of-Famer, Marvin Harrison. Thomas also has 1,242 receiving yards on the year. He’s on pace for 1,806 yards, which would be good for the 5th most all-time in a single season. The record books may very well be rewritten with the All-Pro caliber play from the star also known as “Can’t Guard Mike”.
The Saints will travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons (3-8) on Thanksgiving. After missing the last two games, New Orleans will hope to have star cornerback, Marshon Lattimore. They would like to have him back in time for a matchup with Julio Jones.
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