This was, by and large, a moral victory. Did we have a shot at the end? Great. We haven't had that this year, so that's a start. Did we finish? No, we almost methodically marched backward as fast as we had forward, once field goal range was in sight. But, it beats 13 point losses, of which we've met our quota.
The running game was back, though more consistency would've been nice against a 31st ranked run defense. That was highlighted on the determining play, down by 2 and facing a 2nd and 8 at the NO 36, Deangelo Williams saw FG range in the designated hole to the right, and a homerun to the left. He chose the big hit, and was hit big by Usama Young for a loss of four (earlier in the game, he'd made the same choice for a 39 yard TD).
Of course, the wheels fell apart from there, being sacked by Mike Jenkins for another loss of four and a drop by Dwayne Jarrett on 4th and 16 that could've converted but wouldn't have left time on the clock.
It was an improvement - beating yourself for a few minutes instead of 60. Carolina's now 4-0 in beating itself.
But it's still a loss, and losses still sting. Now it's just an idea of building off what was good:
*big plays in the passing game: 55 yard TD from Jonathan Stewart, 39 yard TD from Williams, a late 21 yard reception from David Gettis that set them up for FG range.
*defense against a top passing offense:
Individual defense: James Anderson had 14 tackles, a sack, and 2 recovered fumbles. He also had trouble on some other plays, and gave up yards in the passing game, but from the stat sheet, Anderson's a Pro Bowl level player today.
Sherrod Martin only had 5 tackles, but forced a fumble and had some huge hits. He and Charles Godfrey kept plays in front of them, critical against the Saints.
Charles Johnson had another sack, giving him two.
*They held Drew Brees, a franchise level QB, to 33/48 and 275 yards. 1 TD, no INT. It would've been nice to get the INTs that had been coming, but Carolina showed last week that didn't guarantee any success. Still, Brees was given only the short completions, and wouldn't have had 200 yards if we had tackled well.