Explosive plays from New Orleans wide receivers Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed saved the offense and helped lead the Saints to a 20-17 Monday Night Football win over the Carolina Panthers.
After the game, New Orleans (2-0) head coach Dennis Allen gave props to both units as the defense was able to shut down the Panthers (0-2) for nearly the entire game with the only hiccup being a Carolina touchdown and two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
“Saw some improvement in a few areas, and I thought we ran the ball effectively and were able to make some explosive plays in the second half,” Allen said. “Except for the last series, I thought we played well defensively. As the game moved on, we got a lot better on pass protection and we had a little growth. Last two weeks, we put together great team wins.”
The first half was a battle between defenses. Even though the New Orleans offense and quarterback Derek Carr controlled the time of possession by five and half minutes, the Saints’ only scores were two short field goals from rookie Blake Grupe.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime with a 6-3 lead, the Saints found the end zone a few plays after a one-handed snag by Olave. Tony Jones, Jr., who was filling in for injured running back Jamaal Williams, capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 19, 2023
The Panthers didn’t go away though, despite the Saints continuously flooding the backfield. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young marched the offense down the field as Eddie Pineiro hit his third field goal of the game to make the score 13-9 midway through the fourth.
With 5:30 left to play, Carr found Shaheed for 45 yards and then Olave in the end zone from 16 yards out. A replay showed that he stepped out of bounds on the seven-yard line before scampering into the end zone. Jones, Jr. was able to make up for the reversed score as he made his way back into the end zone two plays later.
Trying to make it interesting with the score at 20-9, the Panthers drove down 11 plays with Young finding veteran Adam Thielen on a three-yard touchdown. The two then connected once more for the two-point conversion, making the game 20-17.
Carolina’s onside kick attempt was unsuccessful as the Saints were able to ice the game on the last drive. Carr threw for 228 yards on 21 of 36 passing with only an interception to show as Young tossed 153 yards on 22 of 33 passing with a touchdown.
Jones ended the day with only 34 rushing yards but two scores. Saints’ all-around player Taysom Hill led the ground attack with 75 yards.
Defensively, the Saints were led by captain Demario Davis who finished with seven tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Marcus Maye, Carl Granderson, and Nathan Shepherd had the other sacks for New Orleans.
Next up for New Orleans will be a road matchup at Green Bay. Kickoff is set for noon on Sunday.