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With Julian Edelman suspended

    • 150 posts
    September 14, 2018 1:06 pm IST
    Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints face the prospect of seeing their season end where it began.

    That is [url=http://www.billscheapstore.com/logan-thomas-jersey-cheap]Logan Thomas Jersey[/url] , unless they’ve improved enough to turn the tables on the Minnesota Vikings, who beat New Orleans convincingly in Week 1.

    ”That feels like ages and ages ago,” Brees said of the 29-19 loss in Minnesota, describing the difference between the Saints then and now as ”night and day.”

    The Saints (12-5) rebounded from double-digit losses to the Vikings and New England Patriots in their first two games to win the NFC South. Now they’re on to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs after holding off Carolina (11-6), 31-26 on Sunday.

    New Orleans’ next game comes one day before Brees turns 39 years old, and will come one week after the veteran quarterback reminded everyone he’s still capable of big passing days if opposing defenses sell out to stop the Pro Bowl running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

    Brees completed 23 passes to eight different receivers for 375 yards and two touchdowns. Only two of his completions went to Ingram or Kamara, who accounted for only 68 yards from scrimmage combined.

    ”We trust our system. We trust each other and what we proved is we can beat you in a lot of different ways,” Brees said. ”There’s no better feeling than knowing you just won, not only won but won a playoff game as a team and now you’re on to the next one.”

    His touchdown passes of 80 yards to Ted Ginn and 9-yards to tight end Josh Hill helped New Orleans open up a 21-6 lead late in the first half. Michael Thomas caught eight passes for 131 yards, including a 46-yarder that set up Kamara’s short TD run in the fourth quarter.

    For the Panthers, it was an excruciating end to the season. Beaten soundly by the Saints twice before this season, they pushed New Orleans to the brink in the third matchup.

    Aided by the return of star tight end Greg Olsen [url=http://www.saintscheapstore.com/tom-savage-jersey-cheap]Tom Savage Jersey[/url] , the Panthers drove inside the Saints 22-yard line five times, only to come away with nothing twice and field goals three other times.

    ”That was the difference in the game,” said Olsen, who had eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. ”We moved the ball pretty much at will the whole game. We just struggled in the first half in the red zone and it turned out to be points that we kept chasing.”

    Still, the Panthers had a first down on the Saints 21 with 41 seconds left. It wasn’t until Newton’s intentional grounding in the face of end Cameron Jordan’s pass rush, followed by Vonn Bell’s sack on a safety blitz on fourth down, that the Saints sealed the victory.

    Some other things to know from the Saints’ win:

    GETTING PRESSURE: The Saints sacked Newton four times. Jordan, Bell, linebacker Jonathan Freeny and defensive tackle David Onyemata each had one. Jordan, a newly named All-Pro, also tipped two passes and might have made his biggest play when he ran through two blockers to force Newton’s intentional grounding. Their pass rush could be a factor against Minnesota QB Case Keenum, who’s been sacked 17 times in Minnesota’s last six games.

    Certainly [url=http://www.billscheapstore.com/nathan-peterman-jersey-cheap]Nathan Peterman Jersey[/url] , Jordan expects a different game that Week 1, when the Saints had one sack – by Jordan – against then-starter Sam Bradford.

    ”We had a young defense that was still learning,” Jordan said. ”We’ve clearly turned the corner. We’ve clearly turned to the next chapter. Now we’re into the playoffs and we’ve got bigger and better goals.”

    SECONDARY CONCERNS: While the Saints’ defense has been far better this season than last, the secondary has looked more vulnerable lately. Against Carolina, they allowed Newton to pass for 349 yards, his second most all season. New Orleans struggled to cover Olsen and versatile running back Christian McCaffrey, who six catches for 101 yards, including a 56-yard score.

    END ZONE PROTECTION: While the Saints defense gave up 413 net yards, their ability to keep Carolina out of the end zone was crucial.

    ”It’s better to hold them to three than six,” Bell said. ”We held them in the red zone and we won the game.”

    ROAD WOES: While the Saints won their sixth straight home playoff game and improved to 5-0 in the Superdome in postseason games under coach Sean Payton, they’ve won only one road playoff game in their history. That was during the 2013 season, when they won a wild-card round game at Philadelphia before losing the next week at Seattle.

    The Saints’ all time road playoff record is 1-6.




    CHARLOTTE [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/davante-adams-jersey-cheap]Davante Adams Jersey[/url] , N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton walked into the interview room Friday night sporting a black eye and questioning his own judgment after an unexpected crash landing.

    The Panthers‘ eighth-year quarterback escaped a potentially serious injury when he scrambled out of the pocket and dove headfirst on a third-and-9 play in the first quarter, only to get upended by cornerback Jonathan Jones causing the 2015 MVP to land on his head.

    Newton was forced to leave the game to be evaluated for a concussion, but returned four plays later and helped lead Carolina to a 25-14 win over the New England Patriots to remain unbeaten in the preseason.

    “I was thinking to myself it’s the preseason, what do I do? What do I do?” Newton said while describing the run. “I was like I want to get a first down, but I want to bring this plane in as smoothly as possible.”

    The landing was anything but smooth.

    As Newton was contemplating how to avoid contact, Jones hit him low, flipping the QB off his legs and sending Newton spiraling into the air.

    “There were a lot of malfunctions going on from the cockpit,” Newton said with a laugh. “Buttons were getting stuck. It was bad. It was real bad.”

    Newton didn’t have a concussion, but said his noticeably swollen left eye was hurting. Newton said he received the black eye from his own helmet when he hit the ground.

    He joked it was his first black eye since getting in a fight in middle school.

    Newton finished 11 of 17 for 142 yards passing and led three scoring drives — all resulting in field goals — as the Panthers built a 9-3 lead at halftime.

    “I always worry about him, but that’s him — he plays to win,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I would much rather he didn’t (do that), but he’s going to give us all he has because he wants to do the best he can out there.”

    Tom Brady’s night wasn’t nearly as eventful for the Patriots (2-1).

    It was a quiet game for the five-time Super Bowl champion [url=http://www.billscheapstore.com/adolphus-washington-jersey-cheap]Adolphus Washington Jersey[/url] , who completed 12 of 18 passes for 102 yards in the first half and got the Patriots in field goal range twice. But drops and costly mistakes proved pivotal for the Patriots, who were limited to 130 yards in the first half.

    “Our execution needs to be better,” Brady said. “You look back at a lot of the things and it’s a lot of us. It’s not so much what the other team is doing.”

    WHO’S THE GUY?

    With Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games, Brady will be looking for a go-to guy. He hooked up four times with Phillip Dorsett for 36 yards and once each with Cordarrelle Patterson and Chris Hogan for 10 yards.

    “We’re going to have to be on the same page and we have two weeks to figure out who is going to be out there doing it,” Brady said.

    MCCAFFREY BUSY AGAIN

    Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey continued to be a major player on offense, touching the ball 10 times for 51 yards on Carolina’s opening drive which lasted nearly 10 minutes.

    OTHER SCORES

    Backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke scored on a rollout in the second half and Garrett Gilbert connected on a TD pass to Mose Frazier for Carolina’s only touchdowns. New England’s only touchdown came with 2:51 left when Mike Gillislee scored on a 2-yard run. Rivera said both Heinicke and Gilbert are proving worthy of a roster spot as they battle for the No. 2 spot behind Newton.

    NATIONAL ANTHEM

    There were no on-field protests during the playing of the national anthem.

    INJURIES

    Patriots: Running back Jeremy Hill, who is battling for a roster spot, left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

    Panthers: Already without three starting offensive linemen, Carolina lost starting offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles on the game’s opening drive to a hamstring injury. He did not return.

    NEXT UP

    Patriots: Visit Giants on Aug. 30.

    Panthers: Visit Steelers on Aug. 30.

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