Saints up early on Panthers, after long opening drive, big play


The Panthers have their MVP quarterback back, but they’re still struggling.

They trail the Saints 14-0 in the first quarter, giving up a big drive and failing to take advantage of a few opportunities with the ball themselves.

It looked like Cam Newton had hit a big play, but a deep pass to Kelvin Benjamin was overturned on replay review when he failed to control the ball through his diving effort. That forced another punt, as the Panthers haven’t been able to sustain much against a Saints defense that hasn’t been very good.

Of course, the Panthers defense hasn’t been great lately either.

The Saints opened the game with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a rushing touchdown by Coby Fleener.

The tight end-around was a clever play-call on fourth-and-goal from the 1, catching the Panthers by surprise.

But mistakes throughout the drive made it easier on the Saints, including a roughing the passer penalty by defensive tackle Kyle Love on a third-down, which would have forced the Saints to try a field goal.

Drew Brees then followed with an 87-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks, against a patchwork Panthers secondary which features two rookies starting at cornerback.