Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, November 25, 2007 – 4:25 PM
Charlotte, NC – The New Orleans Saints snapped a two-game losing streak and jumped right back into the fray in the NFC South with an impressive all around effort, and handed the Carolina Panthers their fifth straight loss with a 31-6 win.
The Saints’ defense surrendered only 195 yards of offense and stopped the Panthers on all but three of their third downs (3-of-12).
“I thought that we played one of our better games of the season in all phases,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “I thought we had a really good week of practice and it translated to the field today. This (Carolina) is a team that we have struggled against and it feels good to get this win.”
The Saints scored 21 unanswered points in the second half and widened what was a four-point halftime lead (10-6) to a 31-6 lead by the time the third stanza ended. Drew Brees threw three short scores and scored on an eight yard TD run to stake the Saints to a commanding lead. The 21 third quarter points tied the Saints’ season high for most points scored in a quarter (done two other times), and the Saints’ defense forced a season-high four turnovers.
The Saints’ biggest play of the day, though, may very well have occurred on the first play of the second quarter with the Panthers leading 3-0. Carolina had the ball at the NO 33 and went for it on fourth down when they tried to send bulldozer FB Brad Hoover through the line of scrimmage. But Saints’ S Roman Harper darted through the stacked up line of scrimmage and dropped Hoover for no gain.
“That was a key play,” said Harper. “The defensive line stacked them up and I was able to get through and tackle Hoover. He’s a big dude and that play seemed to get everything going in the right direction for us.”
The Saints then promptly marched down the field in 13 plays, covering 67 yards, and took at lead for good midway through the second quarter. The two teams traded second quarter field goals and the Saints took a 10-6 lead into the locker room.
But the second half, especially the third quarter, was all Black-and-Gold. The Saints racked up 173 yards of offense while limiting the Panthers to only 13 yards on offense and put the game away before the quarter was even over.
Brees was efficient all day, completing 24 of 36 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns to only one interception, while getting help from the Saints’ rushing attack, which churned out 104 yards against the formidable Carolina rush defense. Saints RB Aaron Stecker paced the way with 43 yards on 13 carries, while all three Saints RB received a relatively equal workload.
Lance Moore, Billy Miller and Marques Colston all scored on touchdown receptions and Drew Brees ran for another, and Olindo Mare converted a 46-yard field goal and four extra points to account for the Saints’ points, while Carolina settled for two John Kasay field goals.