There's plenty of blame to go around for not recognizing the play of Drew Brees in a record-setting season. The Panthers were inside the Saints' 10-yard line twice in the first half and came away with only three points. Cam Newton and the Panthers offense struggled in the red zone for most of the evening, having to settle for Graham Gano field goals over Panthers touchdowns.
The Vikings (13-3), who received a first-round bye in the playoffs, traveled to New Orleans to open the season on September 11 defeated the Saints 29-19.
It didn't work out - quarterback Drew Brees threw an interception (which was a better result than an incomplete pass, actually).
Gano kicked a 39-yard field goal before Zach Line ran 1 yard for a touchdown for the Saints.
If the Saints and Falcons advance, the NFC title game will be in the Superdome on Sunday Jan. 21 at 5:40 p.m. on FOX. The Saints still had a 21-9 lead at halftime and remained up by 12 in the fourth quarter before Newton rallied the Panthers. It'll be interesting to see if this game has any draining factor on the Saints next week.
"(I had to) make the layup", Bell said.
"They blocked it pretty well throughout the day, but I made the play on the last one - the one that counts", Bell said.
Newton would get back up and start walking off the field, but before he reached the sideline he fell to the turf and appeared to be out of it.
The Saints sacked Cam Newton on 4th-and-23 on a potential game-winning drive that went deep into New Orleans territory before stalling. His touchdown catch seemingly gave the Panthers all the momentum in the fourth, but that shifted when Newton briefly left the game on a violent sack that led to his being tested for a concussion. "If Drew's got to toss it around in the air and throw it to all our receivers and tight ends, so be it". A potential 14-point swing deflated the Panthers, and Carolina spent the rest of the half trading field goals for touchdowns.
"Could we get a taste of our own medicine?"
Brees consistently found his targets with Michael Thomas shining to haul in eight catches for 131 yards.
Unlike past weeks, when we could look at former SMU players on several National Football League teams, the Wild Card round of the playoffs limited us to the former Mustangs on the New Orleans Saints.
Brees was then intercepted to leave the Panthers a small chance - two minutes and zero timeouts.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, much of whose season was side-tracked by injury, made two huge plays leading to Carolina's first touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Saints upped their lead to 31-19 on a touchdown run by tailback Alvin Kamara.
Newton threw for 349 yards, his second highest total of the year, including a 56-yard touchdown pass to running back Christian McCaffrey that brought the Panthers within five with 4:09 to go.
"Probably the one thing that always holds true is that you just can't kick field goals", Rivera said.