Even though it took five possessions to get on the board, the New Orleans Saints (6-7) scored on a nine-yard touchdown from Alvin Kamara at the start of the second quarter and never lost the lead, defeating the Carolina Panthers 28-6 on Sunday.
While the offense may have played slow all day, the Saints’ special teams made it clear that losing to the Panthers (1-12) was not an option. With the score at 7-3, Saints linebacker Nephi Sewell rushed free to block a Johnny Hekker punt with less than five minutes remaining before halftime. Fellow linebacker D’Marco Jackson picked it up for a scoop and score to turn it into a two-possession game.
There’s just something about punt blocks in the Dome…
Nephi blocks it, D’Marco scoops and scores 🔥
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 10, 2023
After the half, the offense waited seven possessions to score as Derek Carr hit Chris Olave for a seven-yard touchdown to go up 21-6. A fourth-quarter pass to tight end Jimmy Graham made the score 28-6 and put a halt to a three-game losing streak for New Orleans.
Offensively, the unit managed 207 yards as an injured Carr struggled for most of the day. Outside of holding the Panthers to just two field goals, the defense sacked Bryce Young four times while also forcing a fumble.
“We played well enough to win this game, but we certainly have to play better to win all games, particularly offensively,” New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen said. “Defensively, I thought we came up with a few red zone stops that helped, and blocking that punt was really huge.”
Offensive line scuffle
Following Carolina’s only sack of the day, which came in the third quarter, Carr showed his frustration with center Erik McCoy on the sideline.
Here’s the full play and heated argument between Derek Carr and Erik McCoy after the sack in the Saints win over the Panthers. James Hurst was trying to calm McCoy down as they went to the sideline. @wdsu pic.twitter.com/SnoZ23zBdz
— Sharief Ishaq (@ShariefWDSU) December 11, 2023
When asked after the game, the veteran quarterback shut down the idea of any bad blood between the two.
“There really is nothing wrong,” Carr said. “We had a moment. I’ve had some of those moments in my 10 years a lot of times with a coach, with a teammate, or somebody. You always circle back and make it right.”
McCoy issued a public apology to Carr despite being restrained from Carr on the sideline after the scuffle.
Although the last three seasons have not gone as planned, New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis entered an elite club with Sunday’s win. Since taking over as GM in 2002, Loomis’ team has now won 200 games.
Loomis became the ninth GM to hit that mark with eight others – Al Davis, Bill Belichick, Jerry Jones, Tex Schramm, Bill Polian, Kevin Colbert, Curly Lambeau, and Ozzie Newsome.
The Saints will be back in action against the New York Giants at home on Sunday, Dec. 17. Kickoff is set for noon central time.