More of the Same

Haven't we seen this play before? For the fourth time this year, the Panthers have failed to hold a lead with two minutes to go. This was the second time they've allowed New Orleans to rally, the Saints winning this time 27-23 for the Panthers 11th straight loss.

Actually, it's kind of amazing that the Panthers were even in this one late. They were outgained 432-150 in net yardage, Chris Weinke was sacked 8 times and they coverted just 3-12 third downs. In fact, the Saints led this one 20-10 one play into the fourth quarter.

What happened was penalties and turnovers. The Saints were penalized 10 times for 85 yards and turned the ball over twice. The Panthers special teams also happened.

Once again, kick returner Steve Smith came up big. Just after the Saints opened their 20-10 lead, Smith ran the ensuing kickoff back 82 yards to the 12. The Panthers had to settle for a field goal. Then, Jimmy Hitchcock ran back an Aaron Brooks pass 35 yards to the Saints 31 and that led to Chris Weinke's second touchdown of the day that tied with score with 5:49 left. The Panthers got the ball back, and got a 51-yard field goal from John Kasay to take a 23-20 lead with 2:40 left.

On the first play after the kickoff, Brooks hit Rickey Williams on a little swing pass that the bulky back turned into a 42 yard gain that put the Saints in field goal range. That's when the Panthers started playing like they expected the Saints to score a touchdown and take the lead. The Saints were out of timeouts, but the Panthers were calling timeouts to make sure they'd have time left. Even though many thought the Saints would settle for a tying field goal, the Panthers played it as if they expected a touchdown, and that's what they got. Brooks hit a wide open Joe Horn on a 17 yard play that gave the Saints their winning margin.

Once again, it was the Panthers defense "mis-playing" their defense on the final drive according to George Seifert. It resulted in their 11th straight loss as the tune continues to remain the same. As long as they go into the final two minutes up by a touchdown or less, you just get that feeling they don't believe they can win.


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