Saints Beat Up Panthers 28-10, Take Division Lead
On a short week, the New Orleans Saints traveled to Charlotte and beat up the Carolina Panthers Thursday night 28-10. The win snapped a 7-game road regular season losing streak, and gives the Saints sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Mark Ingram (pictured left) shined in the victory for New Orleans, rushing for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries. His 30 carries marks the most by a Saints running back in a game during the Sean Payton era (2006-present).
Ingram rushed for 172 yards in last Sunday's win over the Green Bay Packers, becoming the first Saints back to register back to back 100 yard rushing performances since Deuce McAllister did it in 2006.
New Orleans rushed 37 times, while quarterback Drew Brees attempted 34 passes, completing 24 for 297 yards and a touchdown.
Brees found Jimmy Graham on first and goal with 6 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, giving the Saints a 14-0 halftime lead.
Brees rushed for a score as well, leaping over his offensive line for a 1 yard score on a 4th and goal. The score put the Saints up 21-7, answering the Panthers only scoring drive which began the second half.
"You play to win the game," said Brees when asked about the aggressive play call.
Graham was Brees' favorite target Thursday night, catching all 7 passes thrown his way for 83 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Saints were solid, forcing 2 turnovers, sacking Panther quarterback Cam Newton 4 times.
Junior Gallette sacked Newton twice, forcing a fumble that Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton recovered at the Panther 4 yard line. Ingram rushed for a score two plays later.
Cam Jordan and Akiem Hicks registered a sack a piece.
When New Orleans' offense turned the ball over on their first two drives of the game, the Saints defense forced Carolina to punt.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis was dominant all night, helping shut down Carolina's number one option, Kelvin Benjamin.
"He got our game ball tonight," said Payton of Lewis. "I thought his play was outstanding."
With the victory, the Saints take the lead in the NFC South at 4-4, while the Panthers fall to 3-5-1.
After a short week, the Saints get an extended rest before hosting the San Francisco 49ers in 10 days (November 9th) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It marks their first of 3 consecutive home games.