Saints Beat Carolina - GAME BLOG
6:11 - Good teams find a way to win. Most teams in this league get banged up. And the Saints are getting the job done despite losing key players and not playing their best.
Once again, the defense scores for New Orleans. And the Hargrove strip and score secured the win this afternoon. Divisional wins are often ugly, and this one was no exception. But ending a 7-game home losing streak to a team is never easy. Mission accomplished for the NFC's best at the halfway mark of the regular season.
6:08 - Nope. Now it's over. Shanle knocks away a pass at the goalline. The Saints have made life more than a little interesting the last 3 weeks. But they are 8-0.
6:07 - Shaper with a deflection. Panthers can run it now. It's 4th down.
6:06 - Huh? Carolina dials up a run. Williams is brought down at the 2, and Panthers spike it with 25 seconds left.
6:05 - Delhomme with two mroe completions. Panthers stop the clock with 41 seconds left at the Saints 8.
6:04 - Ok, it's not totally over. Steve Smith catches a 46-yarder in triple coverage. But the clock is ticking...
6:00 - Before today, Hargrove had not recovered a fumble in the NFL since 2005. He had two today. Good timing for a team that has seemed to have just that so often this year.
5:58 - Touchdown, Saints! Williams fumbled on a run up the gut to try and gain some breathing room. Hargrove stripped him and scored on the quick scoop.
Ballgame at the two minute warning!
5:57 - The rookie make it happen! Morstead's excelent kick is downed by Jenkins at the 2. Carolina must go a long way to tie or win with 2:17 to go.
5:56 - Panthers brought the house, and Brees missed Shockey over the middle with rpessure in his face. This game is over if he makes the throw. Punt time for New Orleans.
5:55 - Bell gains three, and the Panthers burn their last timeout with 2:33 to go. Do you dial up a pass? I think so, but it may be a short throw.
5:54 - Carolina calls timeout (2nd of the half) after Thomas was tackled for a 1-yard loss.
5:52 - Will Smith sacks Delhomme on 4th down. Jake fumbles, and Hargrove pounced on it with 2:43 to go. Interestingly enough, Jenkins was covering Steve Smith on the play.
5:52 - Malcolm Jenkins is forced on the field and has good coverage on Jarret in the slot. Fourth down for Carolina.
5:51 - Third-and-8 for Carolina after Delhomme misses Smith on a deep route by 10 yards.
5:49 - Vilma gets lost in coverage, and TE Gary Barnidge is pst midfield for a first down with 3:42 left.
5:49 - Greer is still out, so Randall Gay has work to do.
5:45 - Carney proves his worth by knocking home a 40 yard field goal to give New Orleans the lead. But, the Saints have left the Panthers in this game with more errors at the wrong times. With 4:36 left, Carolina has 2 timeouts left to tie or re-take the lead.
5:44 - Colston cannot make a play today. Brees heaves it up to him in triple coverage, but the pass hit Colston's hands.
5:43 - Saints a puched in the gut with a holding call when Thomas had executed a screen perfectly for a first down to the 3. Jahri Evans held a guy when the play was already past him.
5:43 - Payton made the most pourous mistake by the Saints today. The challenge is rejected, and New Orleans is down to a timeout in regulation.
5:42 - Untill that drop, Lenny Vangilder just mentioned to me that all of Brees' other incompletions were in the 3rd quarter.
5:39 - Colston's third drop is costly. He had a touchdown in the back of the endzone only to drop it when he hits the ground. Saints will challenge, but Payton had a serious brainfart. He calls timeout first and them throws the red challenge flag. What is wrong with him? That's basic for a head coach. Since I doubt this play will be reversed, Payton just cost the Saints 2 timeouts.
5:35 - Meachem again for 20 down the seam to the 16. With Lance Moore out, it's been the 3rd year ex-Tennessee star making the big grabs over the middle today.
5:32 - After a Bush catch for a first down, it's Thomas again for 12 to mdfield. This is the reason why you stay patient with the run against the Panthers. Their run defense is struggling due to injuries. Boy, that sounds familair.
5:31 - Pierre Thomas has singled-handedly moved the Saints off the goalline with a short run and a tremendous 17-yard catch and run.
5:26 - Panthers take advantage of the solid drive by downing a punt at the Saints 2. The offense must move the ball back into decent field position. With 11:19 left, the Panthers would love to play with a tilted field and steal this game. That was basically their game plan.
5:25 - Harper does what he does best, stuffing Stewart at the Saints 46 on a key 3rd-and-3.
5:24 -Now in an even game, Carolina has shown willingness to let Delhomme use play-action more often.
5:21 - Saints are given the benefit of a false start and have the Panthers in 3rd-and-13. Yet they cannot get to Delhomme on the play and give away a first down reception.
New Orleans has struggled to stay off the field on 3rd down in this half.
5:15 - Touchdown, Saints! On 3rd down, Brees hits Meachem down the seam at the Panthers 30. The defender went for the ball. He missed. And the Saints have a 54-yard scoring play.
Through 3 quarters, we have a new ballgame.
5:14 - Bush runs hard for 7 after making a nice one-handed grab on the previous play.
5:13 - Jeremy Shockey is called for offensive interference on 1st-and-ten. Looked like mystery call to me.
5:12 - And Mike Bell gets it done, running for 5.
5:11 - Thomas runs for 3 on second and 5. Looks like the refs missed a face mask. Big conversion down here.
5:05 - Kasay hits a 24-yard field goal. Sometimes you have to be very lucky to go unbeaten. DeAngelo Williams drops an easy TD pass on 3rd down.
Carolina's drive was 19-plays, 73-yard taking a whopping 9:47 off the clock. They had help from the Saints before shooting themselves in the foot.
5:04 - Unless Jake Delhomme does something stupid. He misses the handoff and is thrown for a 6-yard loss. WOW.
5:01 - Saints have surrendered all of the momentum they had in this game. On seond and long, Vilma misses another tackle, this time on Stewart, to allow a run all the way to the one-yard line. Carolina calls timeout before first and goal.
Book it. The Panthers will allow a touchdown here - likely on the enxt play (16th play of the drive). New Orleans is doing everything they can to allow an 8-8 (at best) type of team to win a game.
4:59 - Less than championship run defense by the Saints again! McCray literally throws Stewart forward for a first down on 3rd-and-three. The Saints are making it easy for the Paanthers to have one of their text-book power drives by not making third down stops.
4:57 - What is Harper thinking? He gets up on the line on 3rd-and-6 and allows Williams to bounce a run outside for 9 and a first down. Dumb football on his part. Carolina will more often run than pass on third and less-than-8 with a lead. Is he paying attention?
4:55 - There's an idea. Blitz Harper. That way, the rest of the secondary (like Sharper on the next play knocking the ball from Jeff King) can make plays on the ball in the air.
4:54 - Weird call by Gregg Williams on 2nd and 10. He blitzes off the edge with Tracy Porter leaving a wideout open thanks to a big cushion from Roman Harper. It's Jarrett again on third down with a hitch catch fro 3 to keep the drive going at the Saints 36.
4:52 - Good news - Saints force Delhomme to throw. Bad news - Harper can't cover a backup tight end; he's called for P.I. and still allows a catch.
4:48 - Simple deal here. Stop the run, and win the game. Delhomme threw just 5 passes in the opening half. The Panthers have zero confidence in their signal-caller.
4:46 - Touchdown, Saints! It was a 4-play, 80-yard statement with the big play prominently involved. Brees hits Henderson 66 yards on third and 4 from their 26. Pierre Thomas took it in on the ground on the very next play.
Now THAT'S a response!
4:29 - HALFTIME: Saints trail 17-6. It's simple, Folks. If the Saints can put any pressure at all on Carolina, they can win this game. The Panthers are content to run the ball and hold the lead to keep Delhomme from blowing the game. But can New Orleans wake up? They get the ball to start the second half. A march for points puts all the pressure on Carolina.
4:26 - Carney hits a 26 yard FG with 4 seconds left. The bright side is the Saints going 76 yards with no timeouts for points.
Brees throws 3 straight incompletions including a ball tipped at the line on 3rd down. This has been a totally disjointed half of football for New Orleans.
4:23 - Colston! There he is. A huge catch in the middle of the zone on the sideline turns into a massive 45 yarder to the Panthers 14. Tack on a half-the-distance penalty with 21 ticks left due to roughing the passer.
Huge momentum shifter if the Saints get a TD.
4:22 - Would you believe Colton dropped another one at midfield? Saints are on the move, no thanks to their best wideout.
4:20 - Colton drops and easy pass over the middle. Saints passing game is still in hibernation.
4:19 - Marvin Mitchell is the like the Jump To Conclusions guy from Office Space. He jumps offsides on 4th-and-a-mile for no reason. "What is it you'd say...you do?"
4:17 - Carolina is 100% playing this game not to mess up. They have run the ball into a wall 3 straight times (and the Saints stuff them all 3 times this time) to punt the ball from midfield.
No timeouts left for the Saints at the 1:53 mark.
4:11 - More dumb football by the Saints. Carolina runs a draw play on 3rd-and 13. Surprised. Me neither, but the out-of-sync Saints were. Williams runs for 13 and a first down to the Saints 44. Pitiful.
4:08 - And the Saints have to punt despite getting an offsides call to make the third down play easier. Brees intentionally underthrew a pass to Bush near midfield. Reggie just didn's make a play.
4:05 - Seems like Sean Payton just doesn't like to take Carolina on head-up. Saints lose 3 on first down trying an end around. Basic running plays have worked just fine.
4:02 - As expected, Carolina keeps it on the ground to take the field goal. John Kasay knocks it through.
Brees has created a 13-point swing against the Saints in a game they trail by 14.
3:59 - Saints stepping up: Vilma forces a big loss in the backfield on a run followed by another Will Smith sack. The latter is healthy this year and justifying his big contract. Delhomme calls timeout on 3rdd-and-21 from the 27.
By the way, I haven't mentioned Delhomme much today because it's Brees making the kind of mistakes that have plagued Jake this year.
3:57 - Nice screen pass by Caolina frees up Stewart for 14. Saints may need to hold Panthers to a field goal here. This opponent isn't Miami; Carolina will be cautious.
3:56 - And now Carolina can go back to the run-run-run philosophy. First down at the New Orleans 30.
3:54 - And a stupid penalty by Sharper. He cuts Steve Smith at the knees on the sideline after a hitch catch-and-run. Saints turn third-and-long into first down at their 42.
It's bad news when the two leaders on each side of the ball are making key mistakes.
3:50 - Drew Brees is KILLING his team. He throws an atrocious interception the Gamble (he's back). The ball is returned to the Panthers 45.
You can flush the MVP and 'Breesus talk. The run defense has stepped up after early struggles and even forced a big turnover. But Brees has just thrown 10 points away in the first half. I have never seen Tom Brady or Peyton Manning play such sloppy football over a three game span. Will the Saints finally pay the price today?
3:48 - Wow. John Fox runs the ball 3 stright times. The first two for nothing. The third one - a total give-up call - results in a fumble. Harper forced the strip of Stewart, and Prioleau feel on it at the Carolina 16. That kills the conservative play calling play. Big chance for the Saints to swing momentum.
3:42 - Saints settle for a 23 yard field goal by Carney. Brees with another mistake on 3rd down by missing a snap out of the shotgun. Again, no one to blame but the QB there. Good news is the Saints go on a 15-play, 74 yard drive that takes over 8 minutes.
3:41 - Thomas Davis, the guy Jim Haslett wanted in the first round a few years back, makes a tackle for a 5 yard loss on first and goal. Could stuff the Saints drive.
3:38 - Panthers injury woes continue with Chris Gamble questionable to return an injury. He's their best corner. Saints should be able to move the ball the rest of the day unless, of course, they stop themselves.
3:37 - Big conversion on third down and 3 with Brees finding Henderson for 15 to the Carolina 5 to end the 1st.
Panthers lead 14-0 after one. The key to the Saints struggles are - get this - turning the ball over and poor run defense.
3:35 - Bush, Bell and Thomas all make things happen on the ground. Running the ball with a screen mixed in has resulted in a time-consuming march the Panthers 23. Carolina calls timeout with 49 seconds left in the quarter.
3:30 - Saints finally get a first down. Of course, they threw twice after a 4-yard first down carry by Thomas. Panthers are near the botton of the league is rush defense. RUN THE BALL.
3:24 - And just like the past two games, Carolina scores off the turnover. Brees has been sacked many more time this year per outing than previous seasons here in New Orleans. And it has often been Brees not getting rid of the ball when things are n't there for him.
Williams scores his 2nd of the day from 7 yards out. Just like their first scoring drive, Carolina goes 3 plays to hit paydirt.
3:22 - Drew Brees has fumbled the ball to Carolina. Jon Beason falls on it. Make it three games in a row that Brees has turned the ball over deep in his own territory. And all three miscues are his fault solely. On this play, he held the ball far too long.
3:19 - A much needed stop for the Saints. they finally stop a couple of running plays cold and make a thrid down stop on a nice open-field recovery and tackle by Roman Harper. Carolina will run until N.O. stops it. Saints ball at their own 11 after the punt.
3:12 - Uh oh. Saints run a screen on 3rd-and-5 to Thomas, but Stinchcomb doesn't make the block. New Orleans throws the ball 3 times and punts after having the ball run down their throats. Not good.
3:08 - And I'm talking gaping holes up the middle. Look, this team will get Sed Ellis back, but they are in dire need of another guy who can at least take up blockers at defensive tackle. The trade deadline has come-and-gone, and the streets aren't loaded with stud nose guards.
3:07 - OUCH -- Touchdown, Carolina. DeAngelo Williams rumbles 66-yards for a score untouched. Serious issues with this Saints team up-front. Two running plays up the gut for the score.
75-yards in one minute. Remi Ayodele and Anthony Hargrove were destroyed there.
3:03 - Carolina won the toss and wants the ball. Again, you want to score first against the Saints.
2:51 - Plenty of former Saints are here today for Saints Hall of Fame day at the Dome. Morten Andersen is the newest inductee. Like Willie Roaf last year, the greatest kicker in team history is enjoying a warm-up for Canton.
2:38 - The GM here at NewOrleans.Com is a team player - and knows how to see a Saints game! He's been our photographer this season, too. Check out the Saints-Panthers gallery throughout the game since he'll be adding pictures throughout the day.
2:30 - I'm not going to say the food at the Dome for the press is 5-star, but there is no doubt in my mind that the run pecan pie they serve here is tremendous. And I need to get to the gym.
2:06 - Also, Scott Fujita is out again, so Jo-Lonn Dunbar must step in and perform more consistently than he and other reserve linebackers did last week when Michael turner broke off several long runs to fuel the Atlanta offense.
2:05 - Second-year wideout Dwayne Jarrett starts for Muhammed. Sherrod Martin will start at free safety for Charles Godfrey. Look for Drew Brees to test him early with some deep balls. Without Clancy (IR) and Ellis, DeMario Pressley gets his first game in the NFL after joining the roster from the practice squad. He will be tested as part of a rotation that has to stop a potent Carolina running game.
2:03 - CAROLINA INACTIVES: S Charles Godfrey, FG Tony Fiammeta, FB Brad Hoover, OG Duke Robinson, WR Muhsin Muhammed, TE Dante Rosario, DT Nick Hayden and emergency QB A.J. Feeley.
2:02 -SAINTS INACTIVES: K Garrett Hartley, WR Lance Moore, CB Leigh Torrance, RB Lynell Hamilton, LB Scott Fujita, C Nick Leckey, DT Sedrick Ellis and emergency QB Chase Daniel
1:54 p.m. - It's quiet in the Dome right now, but the noise will be here in full-force in about an hour and 15 minutes. The Saints look to break a 7-game home losing streak to the defending division champion Panthers, who need the win to even their record and re-establish themselves as a playoff contender.
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