Carolina Panthers give up big day to Drew Brees, fall to 1-5 aft - | WBTV Charlotte

Carolina Panthers give up big day to Drew Brees, fall to 1-5 after 41-38 loss to Saints

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) crosses the end zone for a touchdown in front of Carolina Panthers cornerback Zack Sanchez (31) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) crosses the end zone for a touchdown in front of Carolina Panthers cornerback Zack Sanchez (31) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
CHARLOTTE, NC (Rick Bonnell/The Charlotte Observer) -

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expert at quick-strike, low-risk passes good for first downs.

But Sunday’s display in the Superdome went far beyond efficiency. The Carolina Panthers’ pass-rush was ineffectual, allowing Brees to pick apart a young secondary for over 400 passing yards. The Panthers fell to 1-5 with this 41-38 defeat.

Brees drove the Saints into field goal range on the Saints’ final drive. Brandin Cooks caught a six-yard pass to set up New Orleans kicker Will Lutz with a 52-yard field goal that crossed through the goal post with 11 seconds remaining.

Brees found tight end Josh Hill in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown with just over six minutes left. Hill was originally ruled out of bounds on that play, but a review confirmed he got both feet in bounds with control of the ball.

The Panthers, who once trailed 21-0, fought back to 31-30 in the fourth quarter, only to see Graham Gano’s extra-point kick go wide.

Trailing by eight with about three minutes left the Panthers caught a break when Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was called for pass interference in the end zone, while defending Devin Funchess. Cam Newton faked a handoff to Jonathan Stewart and swept right, leaping into the end zone for the score.

That set up a two-point conversion try. Newton threw to Funchess in the corner of the end zone to tie the game with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left.

Three who mattered

Drew Brees: His halftime passing stats – 18-of-26 for 258 yards and two touchdowns – would be a solid game for plenty of NFL quarterbacks.

Brandin Cooks: He crossed 100 yards receiving before halftime, scorching the Panthers’ secondary for an 87-yard gain.

Jonathan Stewart: Coming off a hamstring injury, he carried the Panthers’ running game on a day when running Newton much probably wouldn’t have been wise, considering recent concussion.

Observations

  • With Stewart back on the active roster, the Panthers chose not to activate Cameron Artis-Payne Sunday. Fozzy Whittaker’s versatility as a third-down pass-catcher might have played into that decision.
  • Two penalties – offsides and a roughing-the-passer – pushed the Panthers backward on the Saints’ first drive for a touchdown. Kyle Love’s low hit on Brees was particularly costly, giving the Saints a first down.
  • Rookie cornerback Zack Sanchez is really struggling, dealing with double moves by wide receivers. Was burned big-time by Brandin Cooks first quarter to that long touchdown.
  • The Panthers converted just one of their first nine third downs against a shaky Saints defense.
  • Those two fourth-down conversions by the Panthers for the third-quarter touchdown felt like a “what’s there to lose?’ more than Riverboat Ron.

Worth mentioning

  • Newton took several big hits in the third quarter while trying to extend passing plays. Newton was coming off concussion protocol.
  • Panthers rookie cornerback Daryl Worley left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion.
  • Gutsy call on the Ted Ginn, Jr. pass to Brenton Bursin early in the fourth quarter. It led to a pass interference call that set up Jonathan Stewart’s touchdown run.
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