Saints start long week with hard loss

The New Orleans Saints wanted some momentum before they flew to London for next Sunday's game with San Diego. They didn't get it. The Saints fell hard to the Carolina Panthers, putting them two games behind front-running Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

With a long, overnight transatlantic flight to London and a week away from home ahead of them, the last thing the Saints wanted to do was play poorly in Sunday's game with the Carolina Panthers.

They knew that a seven-hour plane ride across the pond would have been a lot easier to take if they'd taken care of business in their important matchup with the NFC South-leading Panthers in Bank of America Stadium.

But thanks to a nasty 30-7 beating they took from the Panthers, the week leading up to Sunday's contest with the San Diego Chargers in Wembley Stadium will feel that much longer for the Saints (3-4).

The Saints will have to regroup after being beaten on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game Sunday.

They'll also face the game with the Chargers without running back Reggie Bush, who tore the meniscus in his left knee on a punt return on the final play of the first half and will have arthroscopic surgery, and could be without center Jonathan Goodwin, who also injured his left knee.

The Panthers limited the NFL's most productive passing offense to just 228 yards through the air -- almost 100 yards less than their average of 324.7 a game -- and held the Saints to seven points, the lowest of coach Sean Payton's 41-game tenure.

In addition to not getting the passing game going, they had two turnovers that the Panthers turned into touchdowns and their defense gave up some big plays as well.

One of the big plays was a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith early in the third quarter that pushed a 13-7 halftime lead to 20-7.

The Saints had just 108 passing yards after three quarters and Drew Brees, who came into the game hitting on 71.0 percent of his passes, was just 13 of 27 at that point. He finished the game hitting 21 of 39 passes for 231 yards and a season-low passer rating of 61.0.

"There was not a lot of good today," Payton said. "I thought we got beat in every area. Credit Carolina because they did a good job. But we turned the ball over and allowed big plays, all the things that keep you from winning games.

"It's a tough one to have to jump on a long flight after because we didn't play real well," he said. "We didn't play well in the kicking game. We didn't play well offensively or defensively. We're disappointed."

BY THE NUMBERS: 143 -- Rushing yards allowed by the Saints in Sunday's game with the Panthers after giving up 80.1 yards per game in their previous four outings.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

RB Reggie Bush tore the meniscus in his left knee on the final play of the first half on Sunday at Carolina. He'll have arthroscopic surgery this week and be sidelined for Sunday's game with San Diego in London.

P Steve Weatherford was cut immediately after Sunday's 30-7 loss to the Panthers. The three-year veteran punted five times for a 35.4 average against Carolina and had a net of just 30.2 yards.

C Jonathan Goodwin injured his left knee in the second quarter of Sunday's game and the severity of the injury was not immediately known.

WR Marques Colston, who tore a ligament in his left thumb in the season opener, was active Sunday after being sidelined for five games.

TE Jeremy Shockey played for the first time since undergoing surgery on Sept. 23 to correct a sports hernia. He said he might have suffered a "little setback" when he did a split while being tackled on the first play.

DT Sedrick Ellis, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 3, missed his third straight game Sunday.

WR David Patten was inactive on Sunday for the third straight game because of a groin injury.

CB Aaron Glenn missed his fifth consecutive game with a right ankle injury.

DT Antwan Lake was inactive for Sunday's game because of a recurring groin injury.

WR Terrance Copper, who was released last Tuesday, was re-signed Friday.

DT Montavious Stanley was put on injured reserve after tearing a biceps muscle.


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