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Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints 12/8/13 NFL Score, Recap, News and Notes

Final Score: New Orleans Saints 31, Carolina Panthers 13

December 8, 2013

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One of Week 14’s most anticipated matchups featured the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints in a heated battle for playoff positioning atop the NFC South. This was the first meeting of the year for these two divisional rivals, with the Saints out for revenge after the Panthers swept both games last season. As close as this one was expected to be, in the end it ended up a very one-sided affair.
Let’s take a look at the key players and statistical trends from this one, so that we can see why the game turned out the way it did. We’ll also glance forward to Week 15, so that we can see what’s in store for both teams.

What Happened: The Panthers were able to move the ball early on in the game, but couldn’t cap off their drives with touchdowns. They were stopped short on a pair of scoring drives in the first quarter and had to settle for field goals and an early 6-0 lead after one. Those would be the only points Carolina would score until the fourth quarter.
In the second, the Saints went on the offensive. They’d string up 21 unanswered points in the quarter on Drew Brees passes to Marques Colston (twice) and the ever-reliable Jimmy Graham. New Orleans went into the locker room at halftime with a 15-point lead and complete control of the game.
The Saints continued their domination after the break, extending their lead with a third quarter field goal and another Brees-Graham hookup in the fourth quarter. The Panthers finally punched one into the end zone on a 17-yard pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith, but it was too little, too late. New Orleans silenced their doubters and made amends for their embarrassing showing against Seattle with a convincing 31-13 victory here.
The Saints move to 10-3 and take control of the division again with the win, and the Panthers fall to 9-4. These two teams will meet again in a couple of weeks, though, so anything is still possible in the NFC South.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints 12/8/13 NFL Score, Recap, News and Notes

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

The Stars: After getting shut down by the Seahawks last week, Brees was back to his old ways. He went 30-of-42 for 313 yards and three touchdowns, passing 50,000 yards for his career in the process--a feat which only four other quarterbacks (Favre, Manning, Marino, Elway) have achieved. Colston (nine receptions; 125 yards; two TD) and Graham (six receptions; 58 yards; two TD) were his favorite targets.
The Saints defense was on point as well, holding the Panthers to 6-of-15 on third downs and 128 rush yards (which is a decent number, as that’s been a weakness for them).

The Goats: This loss was a team effort on both sides of the ball, as pretty much everyone on offense and defense came out flat. Cam Newton was sacked five times, and couldn’t find much room when he did get time to pass. He totaled just 160 yards with a long of only 12.
The Panthers’ stout defense was dissected by Brees and looked uncharacteristically vulnerable. They were unable to force any turnovers and allowed more than two touchdowns for the first time this season.

Injuries: Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart left the game with a knee injury; we’ll be able to see how bad it is after today’s MRI results are released.
New Orleans lost a pair of players as well: NT Brodrick Bunkley and TE Josh Hill.

Outlook: Looking forward to Week 15, the Panthers will host the incoming Jets (Sunday, December 15; 4:05 PM ET on CBS). Meanwhile, the Saints will hit the road to visit the St. Louis Rams (Sunday, December 15; 4:25 PM ET on FOX).

For the latest article updates, follow Andrew on Twitter @SCPAndrew.

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