Monday night, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers went to battle for first place in the NFC South. Both teams entered the night 9-3, giving way to what should have been a very evenly-matched contest. Unfortunately for Carolina, that did not end up being the case as New Orleans trounced the Panthers, 31-13.
A week after being routed by the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans returned home and returned to form in a hurry. Defensively, they were as good as they’ve been all season long. The Saints’ front four did a tremendous job keeping Cam Newton under control. Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan were in his face all night long and came up with a combined five huge sacks on Newton, four of them on third downs.
One of the highlights for the Saints came in the fourth quarter when Drew Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 22-yard gain down to the Carolina 8-yard line. That pass put Brees over 50,000 yards for his career, making him the fastest quarterback to reach the milestone.
Brees was able to get to the mark in just his 183rd game as a pro. He broke the previous record held by Peyton Manning, who did it in his 191st game. The other three quarterbacks to keep Brees company in this exclusive club are Dan Marino (193 games), Brett Favre (211 games) and John Elway (229 games).
After New Orleans’ big win over the Panthers, they can claim the top spot in the NFC South. Not only that, but they know good and well that they belong amongst the NFC’s elite and that last week was a tough game, but if it were played in the Super Dome it may have been a different story.
Brees gets to play Carolina once more in two weeks, but this time on the road. That game just might end up deciding the fate of the division leader once and for all. If the Panthers were to win their second meeting and both teams win the two games remaining on their schedule, New Orleans would still win the division due to owning the tie-breaker.