Road Warriors!

New Orleans Saints' Mark Ingram (22) celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers with Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

New Orleans Saints’ Mark Ingram (22) celebrates his touchdown against the Carolina Panthers with Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


By Jeremy R. Johnson

The New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers, in Carolina by a score of 28-10, to put them in possession of first place in the mediocre NFC South. Unfortunately they would go on to lose that honor when Atlanta beat Carolina in week 11.

The New Orleans Saints entered their week nine contest on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints have lost their previous seven road games, not including last year’s playoff victory over Philadelphia. The Saints went into that game sitting at 3-4, and were tied with Carolina 3-4-1 for the NFC South Division lead with Carolina holding a lead by a few percentage points.

Much has been made of the Saints inability to win games on the road as of late, even though they boast the second best road record in the NFL over the past eight seasons under Sean Payton. The team knows that past success is no real indication of future performances, and the Saints are at least two touchdowns worse on the road than at home over their last seven road games.

New Orleans opened this game efficiently on the first drive, with a nice mixture of runs and passes. Then they reached the red-zone, and what has become a disturbing trend this season continued. A Drew Brees pass intended for Kenny Stills was intercepted after it bounced off Stills’ chest. Brees also fumbled twice on the day, but Carolina was unable to capitalize on the mistakes.

Brees ultimately settled in and posted a respectable 297 yards on 24 of 34 passing attempts with an interception and a touchdown, but the night belonged to Mark Ingram.

Once again, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama ran with great vision, balance, burst and strength on his way to another stellar performance on a short week. Ingram ran for precisely 100 yards on 33 carries, with two touchdowns. He has brought much needed balance to a pass happy offense, which cannot rely solely on Brees to carry the day. After being much maligned by fans and experts alike, Ingram has proven his worth in spades this season and is definitely on his way to a nice payday this off-season.

Defensively the Saints may have put forth their best performance of the year with some standout performances from our most respected defensive players.

Keenan Lewis may be playing the cornerback position as good as or better than any other player in the NFL. Dez Bryant, Jordie Nelson, and Kelvin Benjamin have all been sent to “The Westbank,” only to never be heard from again. Benjamin had just spent the previous week terrorizing Seattle’s Legion of Boom in Carolina to the tune of nine catches for 94 yards, but was held for two catches for 18 yards by Lewis.

Junior Galette was also outstanding on this day, making what could be called the play of the day; strip sacking Newton with the shadow of his own goal post behind him. He finished the game with two sacks and harassed Newton constantly. Curtis Lofton continues to be a tackling machine. He is often lost in the shuffle because he isn’t as flashy as someone like Luke Kuechly, but he is as consistent as they come. He added to his team high tackling total by adding eight more tackles.

Credit for the Saints victory against the Panthers should also be given to Cam Newton for his poor showing. Newton’s passes were consistently inconsistent. He missed high and wide on receivers causing the Panthers to have an off day overall. The Panthers go as far as Newton will take them, but with a makeshift offensive line and one true standout receiver, the Panthers have and will struggle to win games.

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