Charlotte, N.C. – Once again, the New Orleans Saints have had the heroics when they've needed them most. In a 20-17 victory over Carolina on Monday night at Bank of America Stadium, the defense was stout until the offense found its footing and the special teams aided the cause enough to enable New Orleans to raise its record to 2-0 for the first time since 2013.
OFFENSE: Chris Olave looks like a bona fide star. Six catches for a game-high 86 yards didn't tell the entirety of it; his 42-yard catch in the third quarter, on third-and-7 from the Saints' 28-yard line, arguably was the highlight catch of his young career – reaching out with his left hand as he streaked down the left sideline, tipping the ball up high enough to be able to get under it while falling, and cradling it for a catch to set up the Saints' first touchdown. He's simply a stud. Also, reserve a shout for running back Tony Jones Jr., whose workload grew when Jamaal Williams left the game with an injury, and he responded with 12 carries for 34 yards and the first two rushing touchdowns of his NFL career.
DEFENSE: Defensive end Carl Granderson wiped points off the board and in a nip-and-tuck game like Monday night was, that's significant. The Panthers were facing third-and-6 from New Orleans' 18-yard line with 1:52 left in the second quarter, when Granderson came off the right end and chased down Carolina quarterback Bryce Young from behind. The ball came loose and after a chaotic scramble, cornerback Paulson Adebo recovered it at the Saints' 41. From a likely field goal, at worst, to Saints possession is what Granderson caused, and what New Orleans needed. He finished with two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss and two tackles and leads the team with 2.5 sacks after two games.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Two chip-shot field goals may not seem like much, but points have been precious few in the first two games for the Saints, and kicker Blake Grupe has been perfect on all five field goal attempts. Monday's two were from 28 and 23 yards. Again, not eye-popping, but when the defense is playing as well as it has, any points are precious and for the second straight game, Grupe's points proved to be the difference on the scoreboard.
Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season.