Saints march into divisional round with win over Panthers

Saints march into divisional round with win over Panthers

The Saints won both meetings in the regular season, and rather easily, too, but defeating a team three times in no season is no easy task.

7, as the New Orleans Saints host the Carolina Panthers in an NFC wild-card round game at Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

It will be the first time these franchises collide in the postseason since the Vikings' dramatic 31-28 loss to New Orleans in the 2010 NFC Championship game. But Newton, Carolina's leading rusher this season, didn't run much in two losses to New Orleans, gaining 67 yards on nine carries. Let's take a look.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had one comeback on Sunday, and nearly led a huge one.

Brees connected on touchdown throws of 80 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. and 9 yards to tight end Josh Hill.

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Newton drove Carolina to a first down at the Saints 21, but the game ended with a fourth-down sack by safety Vonn Bell.

4 seed Saints win will advance it to play at No. 2 seed Minnesota (13-3) next Sunday at 3:40 p.m. on FOX as No. 6 seed Atlanta (11-6) eliminated No. 3 seed Los Angeles Saturday night, 26-13, and will play at No. 1 seed Philadelphia (13-3) at 3:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC.

The defense, thanks to a big stop on third down by 37-year-old Julius Peppers and an ill-advised interception by Mike Adams the cost Carolina 16 yards of field position, gave Newton the ball back one last time, with 1:51 to play.

But the problem for New Orleans is possible overconfidence, while human nature says Carolina will be motivated.

NOTES: Reggie Bush led members of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV team onto the field just before the kickoff.

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"It's going to be a big deal for us to get the running game going early", running back Cameron Artis-Payne told USA TODAY Sports.

"From the midpoint of the season, when (Carolina) got on a roll, you can see the confidence grow with that team".

The referees ordered Newton into the sideline tent to be evaluated for a concussion, but a few minutes later, he bounced out with ice on his forehead and looked ready to return.

The Panthers come into this weekend's game winners of three of their last four games. However, they still have Newton. He's arguably as important to his team as any one player in the league. Newton has averaged 12.5 carries for 59.7 yards per game in Carolina's past four games.

Unfortunately for Carolina, it won't be enough. Ingram rushes for at least 90 yards and gets into the end zone as the Saints pull out a close win to move into the next round.

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