After playing an awful first half of football against the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints rallied but came up short in a 26-7 loss Sunday, Sept. 19 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The loss dropped New Orleans to 1-1 while Carolina improved to 2-0.
The Saints, who trailed 17-0 at halftime, forced a Sam Darnold turnover and then scored on an 8-yard run by quarterback Jameis Winston at the start of the fourth quarter to make it 17-7. But Carolina put the game away on an 11-yard scoring run by star back Christian McCaffrey.
Winston, who threw for five touchdowns in the 38-3 Week 1 win over the Green Bay Packers, struggled against Carolina, throwing two interceptions while being sacked four times. He finished 11 of 22 for 111 yards. Star running back Alvin Kamara had a tough outing as well, carrying the ball eight times for five yards while catching four passes for 25 yards.
"It's a long season," Coach Sean Payton said Sunday. "We've certainly got to see this tape, make corrections. And then I say this all the time and it's true. After the full day tomorrow we've got to put this one behind us just like we had to do last week."
The game was decided in the first half. The Panthers scored on a 20-yard pass from Darnold to Brandon Zylstra on their first possession, added a 20-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez in the second quarter and closed out the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to receiver D.J. Moore. The Panthers dominated the first quarter, out-gaining the Saints 159-15 with eight first downs to the Saints' one and finished the half with 274 yards to the Saints' 65. Carolina dominated time of possession in the half, 20:55 to 9:05 ,and ended the half with 15 first downs while the Saints had just three.
Penalties were also an issue as the Saints had 11 accepted penalties for 115 yards. The Panthers won the time of possession battle 38:32 to 21:28 and out-gained the Saints 383-128. The Saints were 2 of 11 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down. Rookie defensive end Payton Turner, the Saints' first round draft pick out of Houston, saw his first action and recorded a sack and three tackles for loss.
The Saints played the game with eight members of their coaching back in Texas because of Covid protocols. The coaches who misssed the game: Ryan Nielsen (assistant head coach/defensive line), Brian Young (pass rush specialist), Jim Chaney (offensive analyst), Declan Doyle (offensive assistant), Phil Galiano (assistant special teams), Curtis Johnson (senior offensive assistant/wide receivers), Dan Roushar (run game coordinator/tight ends) and Joel Thomas (running backs).
New Orleans also had to play without a number of key players including defensive lineman Marcus Davenport, Tanoh Kpassagnon, David Onyemata; linebackers Kwon Alexander, Pete Werner, Chase Hansen; and defensive backs Marshon Lattimore, C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
New Orleans will play at New England next Sunday, Sept. 26. The Patriots defeated the New York Jets on Sunday.