Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers matchup on Jan. 3 in Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season.
Charlotte, N.C. – There was so much feel-good going on during the New Orleans Saints' 33-7 victory over Carolina on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, it was hard to keep up with it all. That often can happen during a lopsided win, but it seemed that for the Saints (12-4), there especially were several gratifying performances as the team closed out the regular season and set its sights on its Wild Card Game against Chicago next Sunday at 3:40 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
OFFENSE: Ty Montgomery said he pulled into practice Saturday and was told he was the only running back available for Sunday's game against Carolina. Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington and fullback Michael Burton all were out due to Covid-19 positivity or contact tracing. Montgomery, who'd been working at receiver the past couple of weeks and was in the gameplan as a receiver during the week, made the adjustment to running back and gained 105 yards on 18 carries, including a 36-yard run. Montgomery hadn't had a 100-yard rushing day since he had a 16-carry, 162-yard day for Green Bay on Dec. 18, 2016. On Sunday, he helped give the Saints the running balance they needed on offense.
DEFENSE: Cornerback Grant Haley got elevated from the practice squad Saturday, and made his first NFL interception – in the end zone, no less – Sunday. That's plenty enough to be the man of the hour for the three-year veteran. Add in a team-high six tackles and a quarterback hit, and it was a banner day for Haley, who was needed because New Orleans was without defensive backs Marcus Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, D.J. Swearinger and Patrick Robinson. Haley had one of the Saints' five interceptions, and one of three in the end zone, as he made – by far – his biggest impact in a New Orleans uniform.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Wil Lutz didn't kick a game-winning field goal, or an NFL record breaker, or a franchise best. But he kicked a couple of clean field goals – the longest, a 48-yarder – after missing a point-after attempt and it had to be soothing to see them sail through. Lutz is a great kicker who's had a rough patch, so if a couple of fairly routine kicks (for him) help him be exactly what the Saints will need him to be in the playoffs, then all the better.