The win improved the Saints to 6-3 heading into a week 10 bye and put them in second place in the division with Tampa Bay. They trail leading Atlanta by a half game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Bank of America Stadium had about 70,000 empty seats. The Panthers fell to 1-7.
"We were used to last year where we ran off 13 in a row," explained Saints quarterback Drew Brees. "That's hard to do. You know that feeling once you get a roll and you feel like everything is going to go our way. You just believe it. We want to get back to that feeling again."
"I think they're tired," said Panthers coach John Fox about his team. "We're not real good right now -- on offense --not as a football team."
Brees shook off an early interception and threw a touchown pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey, who suffered a rib injury on the catch that put the Saints ahead 7-3.
"We took him to the hospital just to make sure there was nothing more serious," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "The X-rays were negative." The catch was Shockey's 500th of his career.
The Saints didn't need him, not with the Panthers failing to reach double digits in points for the fourth time in eight games.
The Saints had 408 total yards with Brees completing 27-of-43 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints' rushing attack picked up 165 yards with Julius Jones the leading runner with six carries for 68 yards. Marques Colston led the Saints with eight catches for 65 yards and Lance Moore had six grabs for a team-high 77 yards.
The Saints held the Panthers to 196 total net yards, including 68 passing as they managed only one-of-12 third-down attempts. Cornerback Jabari Greer returned from the injured list and intercepted a pass for a 24-yard touchdown that was the Saints' first defensive score of the season
Head Coaches & Players Recap Saints' 34-3 Win
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
It was a good hard fought team win. We thought the field position battle was going to be important in the kicking game, and it was significant today. Seems like we played a lot of that game on their end of the field and our coverage units did a good job. I thought we handled that aspect of the game very well. It ended up setting up a score with Jabari’s interception.
One note, Shockey had his 500th career reception, which is the 8th TE in the NFL to do that.
I was pleased with our effort and our energy. I thought we stayed on the field, converted 3rd downs. I thought we got off the field the first half. I thought we did a good job running the football, and I thought we did a good job defending the run. So there’s a lot of encouraging things. Penalties were a little high. I’m going to look at the tape and try to clean that up. It was a good hard fought win. Certainly, with it being a division game, we recognize the importance of that. We head into the bye now and get ourselves ready for the second half of the season.
RE: It was a good win
It was. I thought we had a good week of practice. I thought we came in with the right type of mindset. For the most part, we took care of the little things and ended up with a good road win.
RE: Any update on injuries?
No word on any of those guys. I have a little bit more of an idea middle or later part of the week. We kept them out after Jeremy’s catch. Certainly with Chris and Malcolm the same way. We’ll update you later on in the week.
RE: Defense’s Performance
I thought we played with a lot of energy. We ended up with a big turnover. That was significant. I thought we were physical. We rushed the passer well. We mixed up some of the looks. I thought we played a real good complimentary game. When you look at all three aspects, that was going to be important. We did a lot of the things we set out to do at the start of this week playing this game.
RE: Shockey’s Injury – Was he taken to the hospital?
Yes. The x-rays were negative. We took him just to make sure that there was nothing else more serious. That all came back negative. So, you’re looking at just the specifics.
RE: Did you make any adjustments in the timing after the first quarter with the receivers?
Nothing specific. We got a lot of different looks early from Carolina. They do a good job defensively of trying to bring different pressures. They are well coached. I think we settled in and did a pretty good job of blocking them. On the very first drive we had that turnover which was a little bit of a unique play in how it developed. Nonetheless, I was pleased with our ability to run the ball and convert 3rd downs. That was a good defense we played."
RE: Passing game
We felt the inside slot receivers and the tight ends might have a chance to get some receptions with some of the coverage looks we were getting. We made plays inside and outside when we needed to. That was important.
RE: Was it long overdue for a steamroll win?
You just keep coaching, and you keep playing. You know how these things go. You never can really plan on them. You just got to keep playing it and working hard during the week. I thought our focus was good. We certainly have a lot of respect for the team we were playing today. A lot of things haven’t gone well for them, and yet there are a lot of things statistically that concern you when you play these guys. They are very good on defense. They’ve been struggling on offense. I thought we had a good mindset and good focus in work during the week, and it was evident today.
RE: The kicking game - Hartley
We just keep working and watching him during the week at practice. He’s kicking with confidence.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
RE: Wanting this game so bad
The next game is always the most important game. We haven’t rattled off two wins in a row in a while and we’re used to that. We wanted to get back on track and you turn one win into two, into three and you’ve got a streak going. A divisional win on the road, these count double in a lot of ways and to get this win going into the bye week is big too. To be 6-3 despite everything that’s happened up to this point, I think we feel good about that, knowing that our best football is ahead.
RE: O-line protection
I think they did great, in both the run game and the pass game. Carolina was playing us in a way that was trying to get us to throw the ball with a lot of seven and eight man fronts, but I still feel that we were able to rush against them effectively. Obviously the first play of the game was a great way to set the tone. The passing game we were able to make some plays as well.
RE: Worried after the turnover on the first drive
Yeah, that’s tough. Tough to have an interception that gets tipped off of one of your guys hands. The timing was a little off with the fact that the snap was dropped. I felt like the defense played well by being able to hold them to a field goal and the offense responded well being able to get a touchdown as well.
RE: Importance of turning this game into a rout
Well, I think we could all feel the direction of the game early on. The defense was playing extremely well early on and we just knew offensively that this was a game that we needed to take over and pull away and we were able to do that. We were able to do that late in the second quarter, getting the touchdown and then having a good two minute drive right down the field to get a field goal. I think that was a big momentum shift.
RE: Counterbalancing the Panthers confusing defense
I felt like we had a lot of third down conversions and a lot of positive plays when they were going into that kind of defense so we’ve all seen that quite a bit and it’s something that we’re able to succeed in knowing which guys they’re going to rush and that kind of thing. I think we responded well to it.
RE: Adjusting the timing after the first quarter
I think it was just getting into the flow of the game. That’s a good defense we played there, a top three defense. We knew that coming into the game that they would have a plan for us and it was just us seeing what that plan was going to be after the first couple series and then making the adjustments you need."
RE: The Saints conservative approach on offense
We’re going to push it down the field when we can. I felt like we had a good amount of big plays today, some in the run, some in the pass. I know we’re always trying to make big plays.
RE: Pass to Colston over the middle on third down
It was just a slam. I just tried to put it on his body and he made a great catch and took a big hit and took a penalty.
RE: 3rd down conversions to Colston
He’s a guy I have a lot of trust in. I’ll sometimes make a pass to him where people might think he’s covered but to me he’s not. With him there’s always places I can throw the ball where only he can catch it.
I thought the weather was great. Just a fall day, it was beautiful. So no, it wasn’t an issue.
RE: Factors in the win
Well we haven’t been able to string together two wins in a row since the beginning of the season so obviously we’re used to last year where we rattled off 13 in a row and that’s hard to do. We want to get back to that feeling and we’re coming off the Pittsburgh win, you don’t want to have any kind of let down and we needed a repeat performance like that.
New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham
RE: Playing in his home state
I had the woman who adopted me and her whole family here. To have that, they adopted me in high school and to have them here to enjoy that moment with me was special."
RE: Was the football he gave to the fans his family or Saints fans
That was a fake. I was going to jump and I faked that and gave them a little finger role. I actually still have that ball in my possession. Had to fake them out a little bit, a fake Lambeau leap with a finger role at the end.
RE: The touchdown
I saw that they had man coverage and I gave him a good move. He kind of bit on it and Brees made a great throw. He found me open and I’m just all smiles.
RE: How his first NFL season has gone
For me playing with this offense and this team I just see that we are improving each week and each week it is getting better. For me every time I’m out on the field and every play I do, it seems like my football IQ gets a little better. I know I have a long way to go but I’m making strides and I can feel that. Hopefully I can keep that up and keep the work ethic I’ve had and keep improving to help this team win.
RE: Team taking him from the basketball player to football player
It’s football. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t play football. I know how to step up. I know that they expect me to learn and expect me to get better and expect me to be in the game every game. I wasn’t going to let any kind of injury hold me back.
New Orleans Saints DT Sedrick Ellis
RE: Odd man out not getting a sack today?
It’s still a long season. We’ve still got a lot of games left and I’m sure Alex (Brown) will get his just dues. He’s been doing a pretty good job for us this year and I’m glad he’s on the team.
RE: Defense still fighting at the end of the game
That’s numbers man. Every yard they get, every touchdown, every point they get goes against our numbers and we keep track of that. We definitely want to be on top of every stat, the end of the game included, whether we’re up by 50 or if it’s a tie game.
New Orleans Saints DB Jabari Greer
RE: How he felt of his performance
It felt good, I made a joke to the other DBs that since they’ve been playing so well it was going to be tough to crack back into the lineup again. Being able to do anything to help put the offense into position and put points on the board that’s all that you want to be able to do as a player. To be able to help the team in a game that had such a big magnitude for us.
RE: State of the defense moving forward
We’re confident about the product we’ve put on the field, we’re passionate and we played with each other for about a year now, some guys longer. To be able to play with this defense is fun, we have some special guys on this team. The way they’re able to play ball. Everybody is all in and I think it’s a privilege to play with some of these guys that put everything they have on every play. I think we’re doing well.
RE: Pressure with having three losses
Not at all, we realize the position we put ourselves in but we also realize the type of players we put out on the field and the type of team we had. This is a team that is built to fight through adversity and we welcome the fact and we look forward to putting a great product on the field not only for us but for our supporters.
RE: This game compared to the last game between these teams
Each game is different. We were able to create some turnovers this game and give us good field position and those were things we weren’t able to do last game. Fortunately, we were able to be on the receiving end of a good game and I think we capitalized on turnovers well. We played good defense, solid third down defense as well. Good third down offense, and good coverage on special teams. Any time you’re able to put those things together, you can have a good game.
RE: Both sides of the ball working well
It feels good, the way that our guys fought and scratched. We really wanted this. We needed this game so we went out there and got it. Its good to know that through hard work and perseverance you can make something like this happen. I think this was a game that is really going to give our team the confidence and the blueprint to where we want to get to.
New Orleans Saints DB Tracy Porter
RE: His play time today
I felt pretty good coming in. The coaches told me don’t be surprised if I get a lot of reps. At the end of the day, you are back playing football, doing something that you love to do.
RE: How he feels after the game
As of right now, I feel great. Just game soreness. Nothing that is going to sideline me for a period of time. I just need to sleep it off.
RE: How it feels to go into a bye week after today’s performance
No matter what the situation is, going into a bye week with a win is big. We ended it on a high note. We ended the first half of the season on a high note. We have to relax, take care of our bodies during this bye week, get guys healthy and come back for the second half of the season ready to roll.
RE: Mixed emotions with his recent return and then going into bye week
As far as me, I’m always ready to play. But the bye week is here, so I have to do my best to stay in shape and be ready for the following week.
RE: Chemistry with Jabari Greer
Jabari with the pick six was huge. I did my part in defending the receivers. Having us on the field, the coaches have a ton of confidence in us. Our teammates have that same confidence. Jabari and I are out there and we compensate each other very well. We do a great job in developing chemistry and for the most part we are just out there having fun. We are always getting on each other and always motivating each other to do better. So its all fun.
RE: Was the game plan to do something special on Steve Smith
Nothing really special against him but he’s always a guy that you have to be aware of. You have to be on you’re “A” game playing against him, no matter if you are focusing on him or not because he can slip by you in coverage and make a big play. I don’t know what their scheme was to not feature him in offense or to feature him in offense but if you can minimize a guy like that, you have a good chance of winning.
Panthers Head Coach John Fox
RE: This rock bottom?
I’ve had a couple of rock bottoms. Right now we are not very good offensively. Losing our quarterback and losing a couple of backs didn’t help matters.
RE: Starting QB next week if Moore is healthy
It would be fairly obvious that it would be Matt. He can operate our offense the best of the quarterbacks, unless we decide to go with the wishbone or some kind of option offense.
RE: Putting Tony Pike in
We’ve got two very young players there that, depending on Matt’s status, might be our two quarterbacks for the rest of the season. Tony Pike hasn’t had a rep in the National Football League in a regular season game. There probably wasn’t much fear of a comeback in the game so it gives him valuable time and experience.
We are not really a juggernaut right now but to lose two of your three running backs that were active for the day and your starting quarterback, things could go from kind of not so good to really bad.
RE: Armanti Edwards part of thought to improve offense
Depends on what position, receiver right now, no. We’ll be taking all of the help we can get as far as quarterback position moving the football moving forward.
RE: Rank Pike’s performance
Kind of like I would say for our whole offense at this point, not so good. I’m sure there could be improvement. That’s not indicting him. You guys watched the same thing I watched today.
RE: Team quit today?
No. I think they tried. I just think we’re not that good right now on offense.
RE: View of Beason play that was flagged
Those are going to get called as the season wears on. I’m not going to comment on the individual play. I’ve seen a lot of those calls throughout the season. I think you are going to see a lot moving forward.
Our issues offensively start at quarterback but it’s not just the quarterback. We are just not executing very well. I wish I knew the answer. We’ve got nothing to do but keep working and get better and we’ll continue to do that.
RE: Steve Smith
Their defense has a little bit to do with that. They double him at times. He did have one catch. Unfortunately they flagged another catch for offensive interference. We had a lot of issues today. We had a lot of penalties go against us that were big plays for them. We didn’t execute very well. We turned it over, one for a touchdown.
RE: Any chance of bringing in a veteran quarterback?
You’d have to ask someone in the personnel department about that.
RE: Are you saying there is not a veteran on the roster?
I’m not going to comment on personnel.
RE: Done all you can do?
No, because we have eight games left. We’ve done exactly half way of what we can do. We’ve got half of the season to go and we’ll keep grinding until we get better.
RE: Gotten better or worse?
If I had the answer to it, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. We’ve kind of stayed the same I’d say.
This one doesn’t feel much different than last weeks. There aren’t style points that go along with it. You lose by 3 or 30 it counts the same.
Carolina Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen
RE: Have you regressed?
I don’t think so. It’s hard to go out there and play when you only get a few snaps during the week. At the same time, you have to be ready. Those mental reps have to kick in once you get out there on the field.
RE: Has anyone said you are the QB of the future?
Not really. That’s what they said when they drafted me, but other than that I really haven’t had any conversations.
RE: How do you get through?
You just have to keep going out to practice each and every day, look at the tape and get better. We were 3-9 my freshman year at Notre Dame and it was tough. It was the same situation we’re in right now. The only thing that I know how to do to get things better is keep going out there and practice, watch more tape, keep grinding and getting at it. That is the only thing that I know to do and that is what I’ll keep doing.
RE: Offense struggling
Sometimes we’re on and sometimes we’re off. I think consistency is the biggest thing.
RE: Could you have imagined this?
I don’t think anyone could imagine starting off this way during the season but all we can do is keep grinding and getting after it, staying in longer watching tape and go out to practice and try to be more consistent each and every play.
RE: Have you lost confidence?
No, definitely not.
RE: Different feeling coming in this game as opposed to the other game you came in?
I think it was similar situations but that one was late in the fourth quarter and we were backed up on the two yard line. It’s the same feeling. You are on the sidelines cold and you just have to get warmed up and get into the flow of the game as quick as you can."
RE: Learning by being out there
There is no replacement for being out there and experiencing everything that I’m going through and the offense is going through. You can stand on the sidelines for so long but the more reps you get in a game action the more comfortable you feel. Once you play, you go back and watch the tape and from that point, you keep trying to progress.
Panthers QB Tony Pike
RE: Getting to play for the first time
Well anytime you’re able to get in to the game, you’re going to be excited about it and relish the opportunity, I certainly am. I need to do everything I can to make sure if this situation happens again that we get better results but as far as being out there, it’s a little different then being on the scout team. I was just trying to get on the same page as the other guys, sitting there as the third string quarterback, you barely get any reps as a second stringer and for me I just had to speed up the game and get on the same page.
RE: Being able to move the ball on his first opportunity
It felt good, it was kind of a lift for me. When you’re an NFL player and you see good things happening around you, your confidence is going to grow. To be able to do that, it obviously felt good, but as a competitor, any time you come out on the losing end, you can’t be too happy.
RE: His assessment of the team’s effort
There’s obviously going to be things you do good and things you do bad, I know for me I missed a couple of hot routes and that’s just us running the two minute offense in the fourth quarter. I just need to slow things down a bit and just work on that. I need to understand how fast the game goes out there, I think that’s the biggest thing. Sitting back, you’re able to see things, see the progressions but when you’re out there things start moving faster but you have to compose yourself and lead the team.
Panthers WR Steve Smith
RE: Today’s game
Pretty pathetic. That would be the only thing I could say. No explanations, no excuses. Obviously, Matt (Moore) going down early, that hurt us and it pretty much snowballed from there, downhill, full-speed.
RE: Injuries and penalties compounding
When you’re losing, stuff like that, it just happens. You don’t get a call your way. Calls that are made that aren’t made all game, all of a sudden they find their flag and they find their 20/20 vision. But, things happen. That’s part of the game. You have guys that call the game and you have to stick to those calls. That’s all you can do. That’s it.
When things are going on like this, you don’t get any calls your way. That’s just how it is. It’s no excuse. It’s just the small things like that compound over and over and over. It’s aggravating, but in it you always can find something that you can draw from it, and that’s what I’m looking for right now with probably the world’s biggest magnifying glass, and eventually I’ll find it. It’s like finding Waldo. It’s hard right now, but I’m going to find him.
RE: If this season is worse than 2001’s 1-15 season
I plead the fifth. I have respect for those guys that I played with and I haven’t finished a season with these guys
Carolina Panthers LB Jon Beason
RE: At what point does the team say “what’s next?”
There’s a lot of questions and honestly, there’s no answers. I don’t really know what to say or how to address anything. That’s just where I think we’re at as a team and that’s where I am as a player.
RE: If this is the toughest point of a tough season
Definitely the most embarrassing loss of the season. Any time you lose like that, I think it’s self-inflicted.
RE: If players didn’t put forth as much effort
No, I have to go back and watch the tape and assess what went down, but look at the scoreboard at the end of the day. That’s all I have for you right now.
RE: If this is the lowest he has felt in his entire career
Yeah, in 25 years it’s the lowest I’ve felt. We’re just not this bad. I don’t know your opinion, but that’s my opinion. Whether it’s eight games ago or eight games after this, I’ll still have the same opinion. We’re not as bad as this.
RE: Needing to score on defense and Richard Marshall’s interception
That was a great play by him, a great return and those guys gave a lot of effort to stop us from getting in the endzone. A play like that should start a spark and I think it did. We started out fast and they made some plays on us. For him to come up with that big play kind of stopped the bleeding early.
by Ed StatonDiscuss this column below....What do you think?
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