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Panthers Win Streak Crashes Down As Saints Dominate In New Orleans

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By Danny Cox

Early on in the game, it appeared as if the Carolina Panthers had a great game plan for the New Orleans Saints, but they had trouble finishing two good drives in the beginning. From there, it only got worse and those stalled drives appeared to be a sign of things to come on Sunday night.

Eventually, there had to be an off game and this was it. It’s not like the Superdome is an easy place to play for any opposing team.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 8:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Panthers 31-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked during a game against the New Orleans Saints (Credit, Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Coaching Grade: D+

Ron Rivera had a good game plan in place as he has the past eight weeks, but it just didn’t work against the Saints. Nothing was going on offense and the defense couldn’t really get a grip on things. It was easy to stop the Saints rushing attack because they hardly used it at all.

Nothing seemed to go right after the first quarter and it just wasn’t clear what would work for the Panthers.

Offense Grade: C-

New Orleans’ defense was demolished last week by the Seattle Seahawks, but they found their groove against the Panthers. Cam Newton had a mere 160 yards on 22 of 34 passing with one touchdown, but it came far too late. He was tormented all evening as he was sacked five times for a loss of 49 yards, but he was hounded by Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan the whole game.

The running game racked up 128 yards, but Carolina had to stop using it early because before they knew it, they were down by 18 points. It was just not a good performance all around as wide receiver Brandon LaFell was held to two receptions. Greg Olsen had eight receptions but for just 40 yards while Steve Smith had six for 49.

Defense Grade: D+

The defense on the field for the Panthers on Sunday night was nothing like what we’ve seen the majority of this season. Drew Brees was sacked twice, but the Saints gave him great protection most of the night and the defensive line of the Panthers could hardly get near him.

New Orleans’ running game amounted just 69 yards, but they only ran the ball 17 times. Drew Brees and company (especially Marques Colston) weren’t being stopped in the passing game as the Panthers secondary was just torched. This was a poor display all around.

Special Teams Grade: B

Graham Gano hit two early field goals to get the Panthers on the board, but missed one later in the game that might have stopped the bleeding.

Brad Nortman punted five times for a good 45.4 average and a long of 57 yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t have much work but he did well in the return game. He brought one punt back 32 yards and it could have been a touchdown if not for a tackle by his facemask. His two kickoff returns averaged 36.5 yards to give the Panthers good starting field position.

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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