Panthers ‘Brees’ past Saints

Published 5:37 am Monday, October 20, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE - Carolina added credence to the “good defense beats a good offense” philosophy as it smothered Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints 30-7 on Sunday.
Brees flew into Charlotte as the NFL’s leading passer posting 332 yards per game, and with the return of star tight end Jeremy Shockey and standout wide receiver Marques Colsten from injuries, the Saints seemed posed to march into town and light up the visitors side of the scoreboard.
Instead, the Panthers (5-2), backed by the NFL’s second-best pass defense (162 yards per game), and a strong game from Julius Peppers, were able to limit Brees to 231 passing yards and no TD passes.
Peppers had two tackles for a loss, a sack and one forced fumble which eventually led to a Jonathan Stewart 18-yard touchdown run that helped Carolina go up 10-7 in the second quarter.
The win not only gave Carolina a boost over its NFC South rival Saints (3-4), but allowed the Panthers to wash the bad taste out of their mouths from last week’s 27-3 loss to the Buccaneers.
Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme (14-22, 195, 1 TD) agreed.
The Panthers’ fighting spirit was most evident in the fourth quarter when their defense made a huge stand, stopping the Saints on fourth-and-two at the Carolina 3-yard line to preserve its 27-7 lead with eight minutes left to play in the game.
Carolina cornerback Ken Lucas and the rest of the secondary did a nice job getting after it on every ball Brees threw on Sunday.
Matched up man-to-man on Colston, Lucas displayed tremendous cover skills when he snared a Brees pass and ran 31-yards to Saints’ 17-yard line to help set up a DeAngelo Williams four-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
The score put the Panthers up 27-7.
Hindering the Saints offense even more, was the fact that they had to play with out running back Reggie Bush, who injured his knee in the third quarter and did not return.
Leading the charge offensively were Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams (18 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD) and Jonathan Stewart ((17 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD), which, when mixed in with the occasional big play by Steve Smith formed a potent attack.
Smith not only hauled in six catches for 122 yards, but also reeled in the offensive highlight of the day when he caught a 39-yard play-action touchdown pass from Delhomme in between two Saints’ defenders while falling down in the end zone to make the score 20-7 Panthers.
Delhomme said the double coverage on Smith was not a deferent.
The Panthers struck early in the first quarter as they were able to take a 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by John Kasay.
The Saints answered back later on with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that originated in the end of first quarter, and carried over into the second. The drive ended on a Matt Karney 1-yard TD plunge.
It was the only time New Orleans would get into the end zone.
Carolina’s grind-it-out style not only produced points, but kept the New Orleans’ offense off the field.
The Panthers’ line kept the Saints’ pressure at bay for most of the day, and got strong performances from RT Jeremy Bridges and C Geoff Hangartner, who were filling in for Jeff Otah and Ryan Kalil respectively.