The Carolina Panthers let their defense do most of the work, including a touchdown for defensive end Marquis Haynes Sr., on the way to beating the visiting New Orleans Saints 22-14 on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
Baker Mayfield threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. to help the Panthers (1-2) maintain their lead and cleanse some of the disappointment from two close losses to open the season.
New Orleans (1-2) didn’t score until the fourth quarter.
This marked the Panthers’ first home victory since Week 2 of the 2021 season, also against the Saints. Still, Carolina won for only the third time in the last 12 meetings with its NFC South rival, including the playoffs.
Mayfield ended up 12-for-25 for 170 passing yards. Running back Christian McCaffrey gained 108 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Saints quarterback Jameis Winston was 25-for-41 for 353 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Until the fourth quarter, the game’s only touchdown was scored by Haynes on a first-quarter return of a fumble.
Mark Ingram ran 5 yards for a touchdown with 12:31 remaining to complete the Saints’ 89-yard drive, closing the gap to 13-7.
Just 25 seconds later, Carolina answered on Shenault’s 67-yard score. Mayfield’s short swing pass resulted in a huge play on Shenault’s first reception with the Panthers.
An interception ended New Orleans’ next possession and the Panthers turned that into Eddy Pineiro’s third field goal of the game, this one from 34 yards out.
Winston connected with Marquez Callaway for a 4-yard touchdown with 2:22 left. By the time the Saints got the ball back, it was desperation mode and Winston was picked off on the next play.
Receiver Chris Olave accounted for 147 receiving yards on nine catches and Tre’Quan Smith had 105 yards on four receptions for New Orleans. Running back Alvin Kamara posted 61 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
In the final minute of the first half, the Saints wrapped up a 10-play, 70-yard drive when Wil Lutz’s attempt on a 30-yard field goal was partially blocked.
The Saints had the ball for 14 plays during the first drive of the third quarter, covering 62 yards. But they came up empty again when Lutz’s 48-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
The Panthers led 13-0 at halftime despite producing only 101 yards of total offense, compared to 162 for New Orleans. Carolina added only 61 yards in the third quarter.
Haynes returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown for the game’s first points with 5:32 to play in the first quarter. It was the first turnover the Panthers forced this season, with Frankie Luvu’s hit on Kamara jarring the ball loose.
Pineiro’s 45-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter pushed Carolina’s lead to 10-0. Pineiro booted a 48-yarder later in the quarter. Both of the drives for field goals lasted 10 plays.
–Field Level Media