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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saints Postgame

Carolina 23-Saints 10.

This was over before the Saints could draw their guns, not that they were packing much heat.

Jonathan Stewart needed 94 yards to make it to 1100 yards - and he got 67 of them on the second play from scrimmage. He went on to have 16 for 125 and the TD, and hit the 1100 yard, 10 TD mark. He and Deangelo Williams both had 1100 yards, the first duo to do so since the AFL/NFL merger.
Muhsin Muhammad took over for Steve Smith (out, IR/arm) catching 7 of 10 for 85 yards.
Dwayne Jarrett caught all 5 of his balls, for 68 and a score. Only four of the eight receivers targeted caught balls. Matt Moore finished 14-
Na'il Diggs' numerous open field plays led to 9 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a special teams tackle.
Jon Beason was all over the field with 8 tackles, and a TFL.
Marshall had 6 tackles, a PD, and a fumble recovery.
Chris Gamble had 4 tackles and 2 PD, though one should've been an INT.
Tyler Brayton had 4 tackles and a TFL.
Peppers had 3 tackles to go with his INT.
Everette Brown had a pair of QB hurries and a TFL.
Dante Wesley had one of the more bizarre stat lines, with a tackle, a QB hurry, and a special teams fumble recovery.

From there, Carolina battled poor field position and the Saints battled Mark Brunell being rusty. The score was 7-0 through most of the half before the Saints stalled a drive at the Carolina 17, kicking a field goal; right after, Carolina took on their strongest drive of the day, a 2- minute drive led by Muhammad's 4 catches, and Dwayne Jarrett had two, including a 30 yard touchdown (his first as a Panther).

On the ensuing drive, Carolina squib kicked to the Saints, fumbled by Courtney Roby (with thanks to Sherrod Martin) and picked up by Dante Wesley. With :05 left in the half at that point, Carolina took the easy 3 to take it into the half 17-3.

Coming off the half, a few stalled drives back and forth led the Saints back to their own 1. On the ensuing punt, Captain Munnerlyn brought it back to the Saints' 25; they kicked a field goal after three more plays.

Two plays into the next Saints drive, Charles Godfrey popped the ball out on a slant, with Richard Marshall falling on it at the New Orleans 27. Three Mike Goodson runs later, Carolina kicked yet another field goal, to lead 23-3.

Following that, the Saints finally engineered a scoring drive, going 64 yards in 11 plays for a Hamilton rushing TD. The drive had stalled but was kept alive by a questionable call on a deep pass to Meachem, which was called as unnecessary roughness for pulling him to the ground "roughly".

That was the end of the 3rd quarter, and the two teams essentially ran the 4th quarter out. The lone highlight: Julius Peppers' 2nd INT of the year. He picked off a Brunell screen ball to effectively close out the game.

It was a dominant performance against the Saints' backups. Not as convincing a win as the last two, but still finishing 3-0, 4-1, and 8-5.

And so ends the 2009 Carolina Panthers. It's been a ridiculous year - in like a lamb, out like a lion (metaphorically, moreso than the team that drafted Matt Stafford). More reflections on the season later.
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