Panthers clinch playoff bid by stopping Saints in slop

nfl-Cam-Newton-PanthersThe Carolina Panthers figured to make it dramatic, and they added an unlikely hero to the mix.

Quarterback Cam Newton threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds remaining to give the Panthers a 17-13 victory against the New Orleans Saints and clinch a playoff berth on a stormy Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.

Hixon was an afterthought in the game plan, but his diving catch marked his first touchdown of the season.

“We don’t care who gets credit,” said Hixon, who was on the field because of a knee injury to teammate Steve Smith. “(It was) me trying to fill in that role and I figured sooner or later the ball was going to come my way.”

The outcome broke a tie atop the NFC South, with the Panthers capable of clinching the division with another victory.

Carolina (11-4), notching its first playoff berth since 2008, can grab the first-round bye as the No. 2 seed in the NFC and secure at least one home game by winning its finale at Atlanta.

“It has been a long time for this team,” veteran linebacker Thomas Davis said, noting the importance of forcing the Saints into a three-and-out in the last two minutes. “To get the ball back to the offense, we had confidence in those guys and we’re in the playoffs now.”

The Panthers avenged a lopsided loss two weeks earlier at New Orleans despite going 0-for-9 on third downs.

New Orleans (10-5), which would win a tiebreaker with the Panthers, finishes the regular season next week at home against Tampa Bay. The Saints have lost three of their last four games.

“We’ve got a good team and we’ve got great leaders,” Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said. “We’ll get it fixed. Sometimes you fight as hard as you want and you don’t get the outcome.”

Carolina tight end Greg Olsen called Hixon’s play, which was confirmed with video review, the “catch of the year.”

Lewis probably had another interpretation as the Saints were shorthanded in the secondary because of a blitz.

“(Newton) makes a good throw and a good play,” Lewis said. “They caught us in coverage.”

Quarterback Drew Brees threw a 5-yard, third-down touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham with 6:37 remaining as the Saints appeared poised to pull out a 13-10 win.

On the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown drive — covering 97 yards in 11 plays — Graham caught three passes for 62 yards. The final one was a jump-ball play with Graham out-leaping the Carolina defense.

The Panthers didn’t produce a first down on their next two possessions, then took over their own 35 with 55 seconds to play and no timeouts.

Newton hit wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. for 37 yards and tight end Greg Olsen for 14 yards prior to the winning toss.

The Saints had the ball at their own 26 with 1:57 to go but gave the ball back after three rushing plays.

Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly logged 24 tackles, tied for most in an NFL game since 1994.

“It’s awesome, and we won the game,” Kuechly said. “A lot of those numbers go to the guys up front.”

Brees completed 30 of 44 passes for 281 yards and two interceptions.

Newton was 13 of 22 for 181 yards, and after a 44-yard strike to Smith on his first pass of the game, went 7 of 14 for 62 yards and an interception before the final drive.

“(He) was very resilient,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “He struggled today and he knows it.”

Carolina won with only 222 yards of total offense. Sixty-five of those yards came on the last drive.

“I feel we were in control the whole time,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said.

Late in the third quarter, New Orleans caught a break when punting from its own end zone. The Saints kept the ball when Carolina was penalized for lining up over the center, but they punted again before picking up another first down.

The Saints were derailed on the opening drive of the second half by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on offensive tackle Zach Strief. They opted to fake a field goal from the Carolina 34, but the Panthers got the ball back when the trick play resulted in an incomplete pass by backup quarterback Luke McCown.

The Panthers increased their lead to 10-6 on kicker Graham Gano’s 40-yard field goal midway through the third quarter as a steady rain fell.

A turnover late in the first half allowed Carolina to take a 7-6 lead.

Davis intercepted Brees on the first play after the two-minute warning. Running back DeAngelo Williams ran 43 yards on the next snap for a touchdown.

The Saints struck first when new kicker Shayne Graham booted a 40-yard field goal at the 10:49 mark of the second quarter. New Orleans linebacker Ramon Humber recovered an ensuing onside kick.

Running back Mark Ingram’s 34-yard run put the ball at the Carolina 8, but the Saints settled for Graham’s 24-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead.

The Panthers reached the New Orleans 11 on the game’s first possession, but Newton’s tipped pass was intercepted by safety Malcolm Jenkins.

Comments

comments

Chants on break for finals week after loss to Terriers

Chants on break for finals week after loss to TerriersSophomore Tre Brown had a career and team-high 24 points, [more]

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake Invite

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake InviteThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) spent the weekend in Rock [more]

Knox's triple-double lifts Seahawks past Panthers

Knox's triple-double lifts Seahawks past Panthers Myrtle Beach High sophomore Emorie Knox hit a major milestone [more]

CAC's Steele captures gold at Winter Junior Nationals

CAC's Steele captures gold at Winter Junior NationalsCarolina Forest senior and Coastal Aquatic Club standout Taylor Steele [more]

SEAHAWKS STORM PAST GREER FOR STATE TITLE

SEAHAWKS STORM PAST GREER FOR STATE TITLE Over the summer, the Myrtle Beach players were gathered inside [more]

Green Sea Floyds captures first state championship

Green Sea Floyds captures first state championshipFacing fourth down and a sneaker, Green Sea Floyds coach [more]

Hoops: Sharks beat buzzer, Warriors on late foul shots

Hoops: Sharks beat buzzer, Warriors on late foul shotsThe St. James High boys basketball team won a thriller [more]

Schools send football team to state with Seahawk Walk

Schools send football team to state with Seahawk WalkThe Myrtle Beach High football team received a hero's send-off [more]

Hoops: Myrtle Beach boys double up rival Socastee

Hoops: Myrtle Beach boys double up rival SocasteeThe Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team doubled up rival [more]

Seahawks' strange season takes a final twist to state

Seahawks' strange season takes a final twist to stateMickey Wilson has led his team to state championship games [more]

Hoops: NMB boys, CF girls fall short in comeback bids

Hoops: NMB boys, CF girls fall short in comeback bidsWhat appeared to be a pair of lopsided affairs turned [more]

MB's shot at state crown moved to Friday afternoon

MB's shot at state crown moved to Friday afternoonGame time has been moved up a day for the [more]

Socastee product Renfrow titled nation's top walk-on

Socastee product Renfrow titled nation's top walk-onThe Burlsworth Foundation announced Monday that wide receiver Hunter Renfrow [more]

Sun Belt puts 5 in bowls after inaugural title game

Sun Belt puts 5 in bowls after inaugural title gameAfter a thrilling 30-19 win by Appalachian State over Louisiana [more]

Gamecocks get close bowl trip to Charlotte vs. Cavs

Gamecocks get close bowl trip to Charlotte vs. CavsSouth Carolina football fans won't have to travel far to [more]

No. 2 Tigers in high Cotton for bowl game against Irish

No. 2 Tigers in high Cotton for bowl game against IrishThe College Football Playoff and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl announced [more]

Hoops: Conway wins; NMB gives female coach first win

Hoops: Conway wins; NMB gives female coach first winThe Conway High boys basketball team came down from its [more]

Seahawks flip the script on No. 1 Hartsville in rematch

Seahawks flip the script on No. 1 Hartsville in rematch Myrtle Beach exorcised its biggest demon from the 2018 regular [more]

Green Sea Floyds transitions from struggles to state final

Green Sea Floyds transitions from struggles to state finalAs the clock ticked toward zero, Josh Slobodiak searched for [more]

Chants go cold during key stretch, fall to Gamecocks

Chants go cold during key stretch, fall to GamecocksZac Cuthbertson recorded his fourth double-double of the season, but [more]

Gunter tops seven Chants earning Sun Belt awards

Gunter tops seven Chants earning Sun Belt awardsCoastal Carolina football had three players earn all-conference accolades and [more]

Seahawks eye redemption in rematch with Hartsville

Seahawks eye redemption in rematch with HartsvilleThe film was nearly as painful as the game itself. A [more]

Hoops: CF rolls past NMB; Conway tops Wilson in OT

Hoops: CF rolls past NMB; Conway tops Wilson in OTThe Carolina Forest boys basketball team opened the season Tuesday [more]

Williams nets honor after carrying CCU to big wins

Williams nets honor after carrying CCU to big wins Junior guard DJ Williams of the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball [more]

Conway-Wilson highlights high school hoops' tip-off

Conway-Wilson highlights high school hoops' tip-offThe high school basketball season officially tips off Tuesday, highlighted [more]

Chants on break for finals week after loss to Terriers

Chants on break for finals week after loss to TerriersSophomore Tre Brown had a career and team-high 24 points, [more]

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake Invite

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake InviteThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) spent the weekend in Rock [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach