B+ Quarterback:Cam Newton did what he could to give the Panthers a chance, completing 24 of 40 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns and running for 37 yards.
Cliché alert: it's tough to beat an opponent three times in a season, and it's darn near impossible without significant adjustments from the previous meetings.
Carolina was previously 3-0 in NFC Wild Card round with victories in 2003, 2005 and 2013.
Saints: Starting left guard Andrus Peat was carted off the field with a broken left fibula.
To say Brees was up to the challenge would be a gross understatement: 23-of-33 for 376 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, good for a 115.2 rating and his seventh career 300-yard postseason performance.
The Saints beat back a comeback from the Carolina Panthers to hold on for a 31-26 win.
Ted Ginn Jr. had an 80-yard scoring reception to open the scoring late in the first quarter, putting New Orleans ahead to stay.
Carolina would answer quickly. with a field goal. The Panthers finished their season 11-6.
It was the first Panthers touchdown of the game on their fifth trip inside the Saints 22-yard line. But they sprinted to a lead while their defense limited the fifth-seeded Panthers to field goals instead of touchdowns until the fourth quarter. Gano had made 29-of-30 kicks before that miss, and his only failed attempt had come from 55 yards out.
Newton sat on the field near the sideline after the play, and while a new National Football League rule calls for players to be taken to the locker room to be evaluated for concussions if they appear to be struggling to stand, Newton said part of his helmet got pushed into his eyelid and he only sat down to give backup Derek Andersonmore time to warm up. An Onyemata hit forced an early throw that rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore batted away, and on second down, Jordan drove into Newton, forcing the Panthersquarterback to throw the ball away.
The Saints then took over, and Brees found Ginn for the touchdown.
Whether it was injuries to receivers like Damiere Byrd and Curtis Samuel (who combined on the season for 25 receptions for 225 yards) or one last insult from former general manager Dave Gettleman, who pinched every penny he could, the fact remains that Newton does not have the receivers he needs to succeed.
C Offensive line: Newton had a clean pocket in the first half, when he wasn't sacked and was only pressured once.
NOTES: Reggie Bush led members of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV team onto the field just before the kickoff.
The Saints have an improved running game with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara and a much better defense than past year, which makes the Saints an extremely risky team going into the playoffs.
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