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Opening drives previewed difficult game for Saints against Carolina | Week 2 Turning Point of the Game

Quick-strike TD against defense, stalled offense set tone in 26-7 loss

The New Orleans Saints take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season.

Fort Worth, Texas – More than a pivotal play on Sunday against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., a couple of drives essentially outlined how the game would go in the New Orleans Saints' 26-7 loss to the Panthers.

After the Saints' defense smothered Green Bay and didn't allow a touchdown in the season opener, Carolina took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown in five plays, requiring just 180 seconds to do it. And while New Orleans was its usual self against the run – Carolina totaled three yards on two carries on the drive – the Saints didn't generate nearly enough pressure against Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold to make him feel uncomfortable.

Darnold completed his three pass attempts on the drive for 72 yards, including a 20-yard score to a wide-open Brandon Zylstra.


New Orleans appeared poised to answer the call, with Deonte Harris returning the kickoff 32 yards to the Saints' 35, and the Panthers being penalized for roughing the passer against quarterback Jameis Winston on the first offensive snap for the Saints.

But on the next play Winston was sacked for a 7-yard loss on first-and-10 from the 50. And after a 9-yard completion to Harris pulled the Saints into a more manageable third-and-8 from the Carolina 48-yard line, back-to-back false start penalties, by left tackle Terron Armstead and right guard Calvin Throckmorton, led to a much-less-favorable, third-and-18 from the Saints' 42.

A short completion from Winston to running back Alvin Kamara preceded a punt, and the drives were previews of how the Saints would sputter on offense and defense against the Panthers.

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