Saints Fall To Panthers, 27-22
The New Orleans Saints fell on the road Sunday afternoon, dropping a 27-22 decision to the Carolina Panthers, in a match-up of NFC South rivals at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The loss keeps the Saints winless this season, and marks the first time they have begun a season with three-consecutive losses since 2012.
New Orleans got on the scoreboard first, on the very first drive of the game, when Zach Hocker booted through a 30-yard field goal, capping off a 12-play, 67-yard drive, to take a 3-0 lead at the 9:03 mark of the opening quarter, which turned out to be the only points of the period.
The Saints dominated the first quarter, outgaining Carolina, 116-43, in terms of total yards, while maintaining the football for 11:55 of a possible 15:00.
New Orleans scored the first touchdown of the game at the 11:44 mark of the second quarter, when Mark Ingram scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, ending an impressive 16-play, 94-yard drive, that took 9:11 off the clock, to extend their lead to 10-0.
Carolina scored their first points on the next possession, when Cam Newton connected with Greg Olsen on an 11-yard touchdown pass, completing a 12-play, 80-yard drive, that cut the deficit to 10-7 at the 5:14 mark of the second quarter.
The Panthers tied the game with only :02 left in the second quarter, when Graham Gano kicked through a 20-yard field goal, culminating an 11-play, 79-yard drive, to even the game, 10-10, which is how the first half scoring ended, as the two teams headed to their locker respective locker rooms for halftime.
Carolina dominated the second quarter, outgaining New Orleans, in terms of total yards, 179-54, to finish the half with 222 total yards, compared to 170 for the Saints.
For the Panthers, Newton completed 11-of-19 passes in the first half, for 177 yards, including a touchdown, while Olsen caught 5 passes for 109 yards and touchdown over the first 30 minutes.
For the Saints, quarterback Luke McCown, filling in for the injured Drew Brees, completed 16-of-17 first half passes for 124 yards, while Ingram rushed for 33 yards, including a touchdown, on 8 carries.
The Saints retook the lead at the 12:31 mark of the third quarter, when Marcus Murphy took back a punt 73 yards for a touchdown, giving them a 16-10 advantage, a score that would hold after a failed extra point due to a bad snap/hold.
The Panthers scored on their very next possession, when Newton and Olsen hooked up on their second touchdown pass of the game, this on from 11 yards out, capping off a 6-play, 83-yard dive, to give them their first lead of the game, 17-16, at the 8:43 mark of the third period.
Carolina extended that lead to four points at the 1:36 mark of the third quarter, when Gano nailed a field goal, his second of the game, this one from 47 yards, culminating a 9-play, 29-yard drive, giving tem a 20-16 advantage, one they would take into the final quarter of play.
The Panthers made it 17-unanswered points at the 9:39 mark of the final frame, when Newton scored on a 13-yard quarterback keeper, ending a 9-play, 88-yard drive, to extend their lead to 27-16.
New Orleans got closer at 4:54 mark, when Khiry Robinson got into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run, completing a 10-play, 80-yard drive, which, followed by a failed two-point conversion, trimmed the deficit to 27-22.
The Saints had two final shots, one starting a drive at their own 29 with 3:50 left. They managed to move the ball inside the Carolina 25-yard line but Josh Norman intercepted an errant McCown pass in the end zone with 1:08 left ending that drive, before the final one, where they moved the ball inside the Carolina 25-yard line, but ran out of time, as the Panthers hung on, securing the 5-point win.
Carolina outgained the Saints, in terms of total yards, 431-380, including a 312-310 advantage in the passing department, as well as a 119-70 edge on the ground.
Newton led the way for the Panthers, completing 20-of-31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns, while Olsen finished with 8 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
In a losing cause for the Saints, McCown finished the game completing 31-of-38 passes for 310 yards, while Ingram accumulated 50 yards on the ground, including a touchdown, on 14 carries.
With the victory, Carolina stays unbeaten, as their record improved to 3-0, while New Orleans fell to 0-3.
The Saints return to action next Sunday night, when they play host to the Dallas Cowboys.