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New Orleans at Carolina

Panthers keep Brees, potent Saints under wraps in resounding win

CBSSports.com wire reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Smith called it a debacle. Chris Harris said he was embarrassed. Jake Delhomme described it as awful.

Panthers get touchy-feely to handle Saints' offense
by Pete Prisco
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A week after giving up sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a woeful road performance, the Carolina Panthers were determined to prove they were different than the maddeningly inconsistent non-playoff teams of the past two years.

On Sunday, they again looked like one of the NFL's best in a 30-7 rout of the New Orleans Saints, who quickly unraveled after Reggie Bush left with a knee injury and Jeremy Shockey perhaps reinjured his groin.

Delhomme threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns, Jonathan Stewart rushed for another score and the Panthers' defense shut down Drew Brees and the NFL's second-rated offense.

Carolina (5-2) has home victories against Atlanta, Kansas City and New Orleans by a combined 88-16. But also the Panthers had a 27-3 loss at Tampa Bay last weekend.

"You have that nasty taste in your mouth until you play another game," Harris said. "We still thought about it, because we were pretty much embarrassed last week. So we had to come out and do something about it."

Brees, who came in leading the NFL in completions and yards passing, was hounded all day and struggled with his accuracy. The Saints couldn't overcome the loss of Bush in the first half and were smothered by the Panthers' improved defense.

"I thought we got beat in every area," Saints coach Sean Payton said.

The return of Shockey and Marques Colston from injuries not only didn't provide a boost to the offense, Shockey lost a fumble that led to Stewart's 18-yard TD run in his first game back from hernia surgery. A clearly frustrated Shockey said in the locker room he felt "60 percent worse" than before the game, and questioned how the Saints have handled the injury.

"It's embarrassing because I have a reputation I want to uphold," Shockey said. "I play hard. It's hard when you do it on one leg."

Carolina twice stopped New Orleans (3-4) on fourth down in the second half. Julius Peppers had a sack and a forced fumble and the Panthers posted another lopsided home victory to improve to 4-0 at Bank of America Stadium.

Delhomme, 7-2 against his former team, threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to a double-covered Smith, and a 4-yard TD to DeAngelo Williams in the third quarter when the Panthers pulled away.

"I think, honestly, we hardly made any mistakes offensively compared to that debacle that we had last week down in Tampa," said Smith, who had six catches for 122 yards and caught his TD pass after he had hit the turf in heavy traffic.

Brees, who had thrown for at least 320 yards in four consecutive games, completed 21 of 39 passes for 231 yards and no touchdowns. Ken Lucas intercepted him in the third quarter, leading to Williams' touchdown that made it 27-7.

"That's a big turning point in the game," Brees said. "I put that on myself."

By then, Bush was in the locker room. Coming in with an NFL-best 41 receptions, Bush hobbled off the field after a punt return late in the first half after aggravating a left knee injury that kept him out of practice some last week. Bush was to travel to Alabama to see knee specialist Dr. James Andrews.

"Of course we're going to miss him, and I hope he's not out very long," Brees said.

Brees uncharacteristically struggled with his accuracy and had three balls batted down in the first half. It didn't help that center Jonathan Goodwin left in the second quarter with a left knee injury.

The Saints' lone touchdown was aided by a 15-yard penalty on cornerback Richard Marshall, leading to Mike Karney's 1-yard run. Later, Brees overthrew Devery Henderson for what would have been a touchdown after he had beaten Marshall in single coverage.

Colston also dropped two balls as he played with a splint protecting his left thumb, and New Orleans fell to 0-3 on the road to begin a five-week stretch away from the Superdome.

While the Saints -- without Bush -- were scheduled to fly directly to London on Sunday night to begin preparations for their game against San Diego next week at Wembley Stadium, the Panthers get to stay home to face Arizona (4-2) feeling good about their fortunes.

"I don't think it's a statement game," Smith said. "It's just another game that we get to put in the win column, and the closer and closer we get to 10, the easier and easier it gets and we can relax and start looking at games in January and February."


  • Matt Lehr replaced Goodwin at center for the Saints. "We're a little bit more encouraged with Goodwin's (injury) and a little bit more discouraged with Reggie's," Payton said.
  • The Panthers were also without starting C Ryan Kalil (ankle) and RT Jeff Otah (ankle).
  • Panthers K John Kasay kicked three field goals and is 14-for-14 on the season.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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A week after an embarrassing loss, Steve Smith (six catches, 122 yards, 39-yard TD) has some fun.
A week after an embarrassing loss, Steve Smith (six catches, 122 yards, 39-yard TD) has some fun. (AP)


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Related Links
Sun. Oct. 19Final
NO - Pass: D. Brees (21-39, 231), Rec: D. Henderson (3-80)
CAR - Pass: J. Delhomme (14-22, 195), Rec: S. Smith (6-122)
Scoring Summary
FGJohn Kasay 39 Yd, 9:11. Drive: 10 plays, 50 yards in 5:49.
TDMike Karney, 1 Yd run (Taylor Mehlhaff kick is good), 14:58. Drive: 9 plays, 78 yards in 4:20.
TDJonathan Stewart, 18 Yd run (John Kasay kick is good), 9:58. Drive: 4 plays, 40 yards in 2:07.
FGJohn Kasay 48 Yd, 3:28. Drive: 6 plays, 31 yards in 2:54.
TDSteve Smith, 39 Yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good), 12:39. Drive: 3 plays, 78 yards in 1:16.
TDDeAngelo Williams, 4 Yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good), 3:58. Drive: 6 plays, 18 yards in 2:55.
FGJohn Kasay 28 Yd, 1:57. Drive: 16 plays, 88 yards in 9:30.
Players of the Game

S. Smith
Rec 6
Yds 122
Avg 20.3
TD 1

D. Henderson
Rec 3
Yds 80
Avg 26.7
TD 0
New Orleans
D. Brees21/3923101
R. Bush955029
D. McAllister947012
A. Stecker21009
P. Thomas1202
M. Karney1111
D. Henderson380054
B. Miller456028
J. Shockey550025
L. Moore31004
R. Meachem1909
M. Campbell1808
D. McAllister1606
R. Bush1505
A. Stecker1505
M. Karney1202
J. Delhomme14/2219520
J. Stewart1768118
D. Williams1866017
J. Delhomme1808
B. Hoover1101
S. Smith6122139
M. Muhammad343016
D. Jarrett113013
J. King1606
B. Hoover1404
D. Williams1414
J. Stewart1303
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
DEN 7 Final
NE 41
SEA 10 Final
TB 20
CLE 11 Final
WAS 14
NYJ 13 Final
OAK 16
IND 14 Final
GB 34
DET 21 Final
HOU 28
DAL 14 Final
STL 34
SF 17 Final
NYG 29
BAL 27 Final
MIA 13
TEN 34 Final
KC 10
PIT 38 Final
CIN 10
MIN 41 Final
CHI 48
SD 14 Final
BUF 23