The Carolina Panthers dropped to 9-4 on the season after a 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints (10-3) on Sunday Night Football. The Panthers were unable to get anything going offensively and failed to contain the Saints’ aerial attack.
The NFC South is still within the Panthers' grasp, as they are set to play the Saints again in Week 16. First, Carolina will have a chance to regroup against an inconsistent New York Jets team in Charlotte next week.
Carolina Panthers - 13
New Orleans Saints - 31
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
vs. Saints Week 14
Game Analysis for the Carolina Panthers
Pass Offense: Cam Newton was efficient to an extent as a passer; however, he was not able to air the ball out against a stout Saints secondary. Newton completed 22 of his 34 passing attempts for 160 yards and a score for a passer rating of 85.4. Newton relied heavily on checkdown passes and ended the game with an average of just 4.7 yards per attempt. Plenty of blame for the ineffectiveness of the passing game can be placed on an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback.
Run Offense: Carolina was extremely efficient running the football on Sunday night. The Panthers rushed 23 times for 128 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry as a team. Newton was able to carry six times for 48 yards, averaging eight yards per rush. DeAngelo Williams carried 13 times for a respectable 52 yards.
Pass Defense: Drew Brees was able to pick apart the Panthers secondary with ease on Sunday night. Brees completed 30 of his 42 attempts for 313 yards and four touchdowns for a passer rating of 124.4. A solid Panthers defense was completely exposed against the Saints in New Orleans.
Run Defense: The Saints barely attempted to run the football on Sunday night due to their success through the air. They only rushed 17 times for 69 yards, gaining an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. Aside from a 38-yard run from Darren Sproles, Carolina’s run defense remained stout.
Special Teams: Graham Gano was able to connect on two of his three field-goal attempts against New Orleans. Ted Ginn Jr. had an exceptional day as a returner, netting an average of 36.5 yards per kick return and ripping off a 32-yard punt return. Panthers coverage units played well and did not allow much room for Saints returners.
Coaching: The Panthers coaching staff failed to make the correct halftime adjustments, as the same story continued in the second half. Brees was not pressured often, and the Saints' passing attack flourished. Carolina’s offense continued to remain flat and was only able to produce a late touchdown. A lack of efficiency on third down haunted the offense throughout the game.
First-Half Analysis for the Carolina Panthers
Pass Offense: Cam Newton was able to find some consistency over the first half, as he completed 10 of his 14 attempts. New Orleans did not give up anything deep, and Newton continually checked down, finishing the half with just 53 yards and a passer rating of 77.4.
Run Offense: The Panthers running game was rather effective early on. Carolina rushed 15 times for 76 yards as a team. That was good enough for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. The Panthers must continue to establish the run and maintain a balanced offense heading into the second half of the game.
Pass Defense: Drew Brees was very efficient over the first half on Sunday night against a stout Panthers secondary. Brees was able to squeeze into tight windows to connect with his receivers consistently. Marques Colston was able to come away with two touchdown receptions, and Jimmy Graham caught one. Brees’ passer rating was an impressive 140.7 at the half.
Run Defense: The Saints only attempted eight rushes over the first half of play; however, they went for a total of 64 yards. Most of that came on a 38-yard scamper by Darren Sproles. Carolina must tighten up in this department to prevent New Orleans from maintaining a balanced offense.
Special Teams: This was the most effective unit of the half for the Panthers. Ted Ginn Jr. was able to rip off a 32-yard punt return, and Graham Gano connected on both of his field-goal attempts for Carolina’s only points.
Coaching: Even though the Panthers were 4-of-8 on third-down attempts in the first half, play-calling must improve over the first two downs. Third-and-long situations stalled the Panthers on numerous drives. Carolina’s pass rush has struggled getting to Brees thus far and must apply pressure to contain New Orleans’ passing attack.