The Carolina Panthers did just enough to beat the New Orleans Saints 23-20 on Thursday evening in the NFL.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will get most of the credit for his side’s victory.
He threw a spectacular a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. late in the first half and then stepped up to the plate with three minutes left on the clock.
The Panthers faced third-and-10 from their own 15 and were clinging to a three-point lead.
Newton threw a bullet to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin over the middle for an 18-yard gain that sealed the game.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 18, 2016
However, the work of the team’s defensive unit deserve as much, if not more, praise.
The Saints were leading the NFL in total offense and ranked third in points scored with 29.4 a game coming into the contest.
For three quarters the Panthers dominated defensively. They kept Drew Brees, who came into the game tied for the NFL lead with 24 touchdown passes, out of the end zone.
They sacked him three times, more than he has gone down in a game all season. They intercepted him once to set up a touchdown and forced him to fumble to set up a field goal.
They kept him to a lot of short plays too. 22 of his 28 attempts through three quarters were within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
All in all, it was gritty team performance from tight group of players. In securing that result, the Panthers kept their Super Bowl dreams alive… but only just. They likely need to win out.