Panthers' 8-game win streak ended by Saints 31-13

By GUERRY SMITH - Associated Press
    2013-12-09 00:38

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Carolina's franchise-record eight-game winning streak came crashing down under the New Orleans Saints' home dominance.

In a matchup of NFC South co-leaders, the Panthers played well for a quarter and then fell apart as the Saints improved to 7-0 in the Superdome, winning 31-13 on Sunday night to regain control of the division.

Everything that had gone well for Carolina in the last two months disappeared. Quarterback Cam Newton was sacked five times and produced zero touchdowns until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach. The Panthers allowed three touchdowns in the second quarter after not giving up more than two in any game this season.

''I'm surprised and disappointed,'' Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. ''We're a better team than we played today.''

Even the Panthers' good start led to frustration. They converted three consecutive third downs on the opening possession, but Newton was sacked on third-and-4 from the New Orleans 20, forcing them to settle for Graham Gano's 45-yard field goal.

After forcing a three-and-out on the Saints' first series, Carolina drove to the New Orleans 6 but had to kick another field goal.

''You get down in the red zone, you have to score touchdowns,'' Rivera said. ''You can't beat a good team, especially a team that is as explosive as these guys are and expect to win with field goals.''

The Saints responded with touchdowns, carving up a Carolina defense that had allowed the fewest points in the league coming in. Drew Brees finished with 313 yards and four TDs passing while becoming the fifth QB in NFL history to surpass 50,000 career yards through the air.

New Orleans scored on consecutive drives of 80, 86 and 76 yards in the second quarter. Brees finished off each with a touchdown toss, hitting wide receiver Marques Colston for the first two and finding tight end Jimmy Graham for the third.

''We just had great balance,'' Brees said. ''Marques came up with some huge catches, as did Jimmy. The line did a great job ... and the defense did a great job of getting us the ball.''

Brees went 6 for 6 for 76 yards New Orleans' third scoring drive, which started at the New Orleans 24 with 2:01 left and ended with Graham beating linebacker Luke Kuechly easily for a 5-yard scoring reception.

The Panthers never recovered. Newton went 22 of 34 for only 160 yards, his lowest passing total since a season-opening 12-7 loss to Seattle, and was under pressure all night.

''It was a great measuring stick for who we are and where we have to go,'' Newton said. ''The best thing about this is we have an opportunity to face this team again in two weeks (at Carolina). Those guys just were better than us today. Are they better than us? No.''

The Saints clearly were better in the dome. All five of their sacks came on third down, forcing the opening-drive field goal and four punts.

''It's tough,'' Carolina offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. ''Their home-field advantage is big. We couldn't her anything in the huddle. It was hard to communicate at the line.''

Carolina's kickers struggled, too. Gano was wide right on a 49-yard field goal that could have cut the deficit to 21-9 early in the third quarter. Brad Nortman had a punt bounce backwards and get downed after traveling 28 yards.

On this night, nothing worked. New Orleans limited Newton to a long completion of 17 yards and outgained Carolina 373-239. The Panthers allowed 31 points, a season high, as Brees completed 30 of 42 for 313 yards and four touchdowns.

''Hands down, we didn't want it today as much as they did,'' defensive end Greg Hardy said. ''I hate losing. It hurts. I'm going to be up tonight figuring out what I didn't do.''

NOTES: Carolina failed to force a turnover for the first time this year. . Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart left the game with a knee injury and River did not disclose the severity of it afterward. . Carolina had allowed an NFL-low nine scoring tosses entering the game. ... Brees also became the first NFL quarterback to pass for at least 4,000 yards in eight straight seasons and 30 TDs in six straight.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Corey BrownNov 26 03:43p

Carolina Panthers WR Corey Brown (shoulder) has been declared inactive for the Week 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Corey BrownNov 26 03:33p

The Carolina Panthers have declared RB Brandon Wegher, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CB Charles Tillman, WR Corey Brown, LS Danny Aiken, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Ryan Delaire inactive for Week 12.

Brice ButlerNov 26 03:33p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared WR Brice Butler, TE Geoff Swaim, LB Mark Nzeocha, CB Morris Claiborne, OG Ronald Leary, DE Ryan Russell, RB Trey Williams inactive for Week 12.

Timothy WrightNov 26 11:33a

The Detroit Lions have declared OT Corey Robinson, DL Gabe Wright, S Isaiah Johnson, DL Jermelle Cudjo, OT LaAdrian Waddle, WR T.J. Jones, TE Tim Wright inactive for Week 12.

Darrelle RevisNov 26 11:33a

New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) wasn't spotted at practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and he's unlikely to play in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins.

Calvin JohnsonNov 26 11:23a

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is active Thursday, Nov. 26, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matt BryantNov 26 11:13a

Updating previous reports, Atlanta Falcons PK Matt Bryant (quadriceps) injured his quadriceps in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Sam BradfordNov 26 11:13a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (concussion, shoulder) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 26.

Sam BradfordNov 26 11:13a

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared DL Brandon Bair, CB Denzel Rice, WR Jonathan Krause, RB Ryan Mathews, QB Sam Bradford, OT Tanner Hawkinson, TE Zach Ertz inactive for Week 12.

Peyton ManningNov 26 11:03a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (foot) will be out at least three weeks as his foot is in a cast for the next 10 days. He'll need at least [ More ]

Devonta FreemanNov 26 11:03a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) won't practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and the team is preparing to play without him in Week 12, according to head coach Dan Quinn.

Shayne GrahamNov 26 10:43a

Free-agent PK Shayne Graham (Saints) will sign with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, Nov. 26, according to a source.

Mark SanchezNov 26 08:43a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez will start Thursday, Nov. 26, in place of QB Sam Bradford (concussion, shoulder).

Doug BaldwinNov 25 07:43p

Seattle Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Tyrod TaylorNov 25 07:23p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor (shoulder) said he will play in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Malcom FloydNov 25 06:53p

San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hip) and WR Malcom Floyd (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Case KeenumNov 25 06:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Case Keenum (concussion) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Dexter McClusterNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans RB Dexter McCluster (knee) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Kendall WrightNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Mark IngramNov 25 06:23p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram's (shoulder) injury isn't expected to be a major concern after resting last week during the bye. It's unclear, however, if his shoulder injury [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 25 06:23p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (abdomen, kidney) is confident that he will play again this year, but a timetable for his return at this point is tough to gauge. [ More ]

Leonard HankersonNov 25 06:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) is still bothered by a hamstring strain, and the Falcons may continue to take their time with his injury. Hankerson previously missed two [ More ]

A. Seferian-JenkinsNov 25 06:03p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Stedman BaileyNov 25 05:53p

St. Louis Rams WR Stedman Bailey (head) is out of surgery and will be in an intensive care unit for 3-5 days. Doctors are hopeful he will make a successful recovery.

Danny AmendolaNov 25 04:43p

New England Patriots WRs Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee) and Aaron Dobson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Glenn DorseyNov 25 04:33p

San Francisco 49ers DT Glenn Dorsey (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 25, after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 11.

Marshawn LynchNov 25 03:53p

Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hernia) will return in three to four weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery Wednesday, Nov. 25, but he could be [ More ]

Matt ForteNov 25 03:33p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (knee) and WR Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder) are both listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Nov. 26.

John BrownNov 25 03:13p

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Martellus BennettNov 25 02:53p

Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) has been ruled out for Week 12 Thursday, Nov. 26.

Michael FloydNov 25 02:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (hamstring) is practicing Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Emmanuel SandersNov 25 02:23p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) is practicing Wednesday, Nov. 25.

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