Drew Brees picks apart Panthers; Saints win 31-26 at Superdome

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints - 1/7/18 NFL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints - 1/7/18 NFL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

For the first time since 2013, the Saints won in the postseason, beating NFC South rival Carolina, 31-26.

With the win over the Panthers, the Saints advanced to the NFC Divisional Playoffs, where they will take on the second-seeded Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis next Sunday night. Newton was very good during his 335-yard, two-touchdown performance in the 49-15 rout of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2016 NFC Championship game, but he has completed just 59.7 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in six playoff games.

In addition to his 728 rushing yards, Kamara also finished second on the Saints' roster with 81 catches for 826 receiving yards and five scores.

The Saints defence would have none of it, however. Newton will be the key to the Panthers hopes for a win.

Newton returned to the game shortly after. Kaelin Clay dropped a perfectly thrown pass by Newton in the end zone, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field-goal try (unsuccessful). Placekicker Graham Gano could have given the Panthers an early lead, but he missed a 25-yard field goal, just his second missed field goal this season. He was replaced by backup Derek Anderson, and, as he moved toward the sideline, Newton went to the ground and appeared to be pointing toward his right eye.

But Newton was first called for a controversial grounding call, that took the Panthers 20 yards away from the endzone, and then sacked to end the game.

Giants OT Justin Pugh called the Panthers' handling of the situation "embarrassing" in a since-deleted tweet.

It was testament to a defence that was aided all day by the Who Dats.

The Panthers didn't need to play flawless Sunday, but they needed to play pretty darn close to it.

The rest of the game he had the noise meter pushed up every time he stood under centre.

"I think we've proved that we can beat you in a lot of different ways", Brees said. "We beat Minnesota. We just didn't go out and do what we were supposed to do". "You still have to have a level of patience and take advantage of them when they do come around".

Ginn was not disrupted at the line of scrimmage as he began his route, and that was partially the fault of Munnerlyn, who allowed the receiver to skim freely past him and into the seam.

"We've got the best fans in the world", he said.

The only first down the Saints had on their initial two possessions was the result of a penalty. Brees's long throw off a roll-out to wide receiver Michael Thomas set up what proved to be the decisive touchdown.

"(The Panthers) were going to be a tough out...and we knew it was going to be a challenge", Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Brees was then intercepted to leave the Panthers a small chance - two minutes and zero timeouts. Brees was 7-7 on the drive.

After another Gano field goal made the score 14-6, fullback Zach Line scored on 1-yard run to put the Saints up 21-6.

This season, Saints swept season series for the first time since 2011, posting a 34-13 victory at Carolina (Week 3) and a 31-21 win three months later (Week 13) at New Orleans.

Instead, the pass wound up in the hands of Carolina safety Mike Adams.

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