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Game recap: New Orleans Saints 20, Carolina Panthers 17 | 2023 NFL Week 2

Defense leads Saints to victory in Charlotte, 2-0 start

Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season.

It took another strong performance by the defense and one of the best catches in the 56-year history of the franchise, but the New Orleans Saints improved to 2-0 with a 20-17 victory Monday over the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.

With the score tied at 6 in the third quarter and the Saints offense struggling, quarterback Derek Carr lofted a deep ball down the left sideline toward second-year receiver Chris Olave, who was being held by Carolina cornerback C.J. Henderson. Olave was able to tap the ball with his one free hand and then secure the 42-yard catch while crashing to the field. That huge play jump-started the offense and led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Tony Jones Jr. , the first score of his short career. He added another two-yard scoring dive with 3:14 to play. Olave finished with six catches for 86 yards.

The Jones scores and two short Blake Grupe field goals (28 and 23 yards) were enough for the win as the New Orleans defense turned in another suffocating performance as it has allowed one touchdown in two games and gone 10 consecutive games without an opponent scoring more than 20 points.

Carolina started rookie quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall draft pick out of Alabama in 2023, and he struggled against the rugged Saints defense, losing one fumble (could have been two if a penalty hadn't wiped it out). Through three quarters Carolina (0-2) had fewer than 120 yards of offense and was one of nine on third down.

Defensive end Carl Granderson had another strong outing with a sack and forced fumble, safety Marcus Maye had a sack as did defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and linebacker Demario Davis. Carolina only scored on three field goals, two more than 50 yards, before their final drive of the game.

The Saints entered the game with just two active running backs - Jamaal Williams and Jones - but lost Williams to a hamstring injury in the first half. Jones finished with 34 yards on 12 carries while Taysom Hill added 75 yards on nine carries.

Carr was 21 of 36 for 228 yards. Receiver Michael Thomas moved past Eric Martin into second place for receptions in team history with seven catches for 55 yards. He now had 538 catches. Marques Colston leads the franchise with 711 receptions.

The Saints will play at the Green Bay Packers (1-1) at noon Sunday. The Saints are now one of three undefeated teams in the NFC South as Atlanta and Tampa Bay are also undefeated. It is the first 2-0 start for the Saints since the 2013 season.

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