CHARLOTTE, NC — Monday night’s NFC South battle between the panthers and the Saints featured the number 1 overall pick in the draft young bryce as Carolina quarterback and offseason addition Derek Carr under the center of New Orleans, but the solid defense of each team controlled the game.
The Saints finally scored the first touchdown of the game late in the third quarter and then pulled away late to win. 20-17. The Saints enter Week 3 with a 2-0 record, while the Panthers fall to 0-2.
New Orleans Saints
Give the Saints defense the MVP award for the second week in a row. The unit salvaged another shaky outing for the offense with a stifling performance against Young and the Panthers. The defense kept the rookie quarterback on his heels most of the night, limiting him to 22 completions for 153 yards, thanks to a four-man rush that totaled four sacks. The Saints’ offense struggled again and failed to score in the first half for the second week in a row, but was able to keep pace after a 42-yard pass to Chris Olave set up a touchdown in the third quarter.
Worrying trend: The play of the offensive line. There’s certainly talent on an O-line stacked with first-round picks, but the unit hasn’t been able to put things together this season. The Saints allowed Carr to be sacked four times, bringing his season total to eight in two games. Although New Orleans had more success in the running game than last week, running back Jamaal Williams He left the game early with a hamstring problem.
QB Breakdown: Carr didn’t have it easy at first, throwing a bad interception and looking like he wasn’t in sync with his receivers. The Saints had to settle for field goals instead of reaching the end zone. But just like last week, Carr was able to make the plays when needed. The downfield throw to Olave was the first 20-yard play by either team, and it seemed to click, as Carr followed with another key throw for Rashid Shahid and a throw to Olave that set up the final touchdown.
Surprising Statistic: The Saints allowed 20 points or fewer for a franchise-record 10th straight game, dating back to last season, and it doesn’t appear to be a fluke. The Saints defense allowed fewer than 300 net yards for the second straight week and tallied four more sacks, bringing their total to seven. The only blemish on their record so far was a late touchdown by the Panthers with 1:16 left in the game. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Saints this season.
Next game: at Packers (1 p.m. ET, Monday)
Young and the Panthers’ offense wasn’t ready for primetime Monday night at Bank of America Stadium. The top draft pick had a dismal performance, although it wasn’t all Young’s fault. His offensive line constantly broke down, putting the former Alabama star under constant pressure against just a four-man rush. But when he was under pressure, Young didn’t respond at all until a fourth-quarter scramble for 26 yards. After completing 2 of 10 passes and being sacked once against pressure in the first game, he went 3 of 8 for 13 yards with four sacks and a fumble in this one.
He did a good job of getting rid of the ball and making some plays with his legs, but he never did it in the passing game – he still hasn’t completed more than 15 yards. These are all reasons why Carolina has scored just two touchdowns in the first two games, and Young’s inexperience remains front and center.
Worrying trend: Young and the Panthers on third down. The Panthers were 4 of 14 on third downs, and Young was a big reason for the inefficiency, going 4 of 9 for 32 yards with two sacks and two scrambles on third downs.
Biggest hole in the game plan: What to do on third and short. The Panthers can’t use the sneak quarterback because Young (5-foot-10, 204 pounds) simply isn’t big enough to make that work. Besides, he has no experience in that. So Carolina had to bring in the backup quarterback Andy Dalton in those plays. The first time there was a false start. The second, Dalton threw to the runner. Miles Sanders for a first try, but this could be a problem in the future.
Fundamental game: On the first drive of the second half, Young had a sack that would have put the Saints in the red zone with a 6-3 lead. It could have been disastrous, but the play was nullified, thanks to a penalty for defensive holding. That allowed Carolina to stay close to the goal until the end.
Next game: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)