Panthers season ends with playoff loss
The Carolina Panthers dropped a third game to New Orleans, ending their season…
After two regular season losses to New Orleans, the Carolina Panthers fell a third time against the Saints. Trading early field goals against Saints touchdowns, the Panthers failed to sustain any lead and left with their first wild card loss in the playoffs to a divisional rival.
Following the loss, only the Saints and divisional rival Atlanta remain alive from the NFC South in the NFL playoffs after both teams won on wild card weekend. The Saints will visit Minnesota while Atlanta travels to NFC number one seed Philadelphia for their next game.
Despite two previous losses against the Saints, Carolina hoped for a different outcome in their playoff meeting. Unfortunately, field goals by the Panthers traded in exchange for touchdowns against the Saints led to a shortage in points and eventual Carolina loss.
After trailing 21-9 at halftime, the Panthers rallied for 17 points in the second half but couldn’t keep the Saints at bay and eventually fell by a final score of 31-26. A much anticipated matchup of divisional rivals led to an exciting game but the Panthers inability to slow down quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offense kept Carolina from advancing.
Numerous Panthers drives in the first half ended with field goal opportunities, including a miss by kicker Graham Gano after a 25-yard attempt sailed wide right following a 15-play drive in the first quarter. The kick would have granted Carolina a lead but instead left the Panthers without any early momentum.
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Two plays later the Saints would crack the scoreboard with an 80-yard touchdown strike to former Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn. The first of four consecutive scoring drives totaling 80, 75, 75, and 36 yards a piece, allowed New Orleans to open up an insurmountable lead.
Carolina failed to climb back into the game, regardless of a late game effort and eventual opportunity for a win against the Saints. Faced with a legitimate opportunity late, a first down at the Saints 21-yard line, the Panthers were subjected to a penalty for intentional grounding essentially moving them out of scoring position.
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The resulting loss, just two plays later, ended a Panthers season filled with turmoil and off the field distractions.