All that talk about the Cardiac Cats? Well, after a few hits with the paddles to get our hearts re-started, fans of the Carolina Panthers could finally celebrate an NFC South Championship and a victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The first half looked like a total mismatch. The Panthers were on a mission and the Saints looked like a team playing out their season. DeAngelo Williams had rushed for 143 yards, more than any back had totaled in a half all season in the NFL.
Then came the second half when Carolina managed to put up another touchdown but wilted in the fourth quarter allowing three New Orleans touchdowns and giving up the lead.
Only one play saved the victory – a heave to Steve Smith by Jake Delhomme late. Gaining just enough yardage to put John Kasay in easy field goal range didn’t seem to sit well since the team was called for another false start giving the last remaining original Panther a 42-yard try to win the game. Thank God he made it!
There were mistakes galore in this game – three turnovers by New Orleans staked Carolina to a 23-10 halftime lead. The Panthers returned those gifts with one horrific punt by Jason Baker and a squib kickoff by Rhys Lloyd with only one second left that went out of bounds that gave the Saints the ball at their own 40 with an opportunity for a hail mary pass.
You just had the feeling that the team relaxed and that they felt they had it won when they went up 30-10 in the third quarter. Seems that only the fire of one Cajun on the Panthers sidelines kept the team in it.
Luckily, the victory went to the Panthers, the first time an NFC South team has defeated a divisional opponent on the road all season.
The division – ours. The second seed – ours. A bye week before having to go back into action – ours.
Here are some random thoughts from the victory over New Orleans:
- Needing 402 yards to set the NFL record for passing yards in a season, Drew Brees managed 386. He did, however, reach the 5000 yard mark for the year.
- DeAngelo Williams finishes the regular season with 1515 yards, best in Panthers history surpassing the mark last held by Stephen Davis.
- Do we need to keep count anymore? Three more false start penalties on the day.
- It was a good effort against the run with Damion Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu out of the game. The Saints gained 50 yards on the ground. Don’t get too excited, Pierre Thomas was out.
- Julius Peppers had another sack today and was held by Saints linemen like he was their prom date. Peppers finishes the year with 14.5.
- Something, anything has to be done about the offense and their second half drop off. For two quarters the last three weeks they look unstoppable but they don’t seem to keep up the success in the second half. Jeff Davidson has to make better halftime adjustments.
- John Kasay is the only remaining Panther for a very good reason – he’s one of the best kickers in the game – despite the miss in the third quarter.
- The stupid Fox robot had a hangover today and an ice pack on his head.