Tight end has third-straight 100-yard game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With 129 yards on eight catches in a 30-27 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham did what no player had done at that position in franchise history — put together three consecutive 100-yard games.
Graham, a second-year pro who was playing in just his 20th NFL game, completed his trifecta Sunday after picking up 100 and 132 yards in his two previous games against Houston and Jacksonville, respectively.
Henry Childs was the only other Saints tight end to have two 100-yard games in a row with 121- and 117-yard games in November, 1979.
“It feels pretty good to have three consecutive wins, that makes it a little better,” Graham said when asked about the personal accomplishment. “If I can keep contributing and keep winning, I’ll be happy.”
His made a spectacular grab on the first play of the second half, going up over safety Charles Godfrey to tip a Drew Brees to himself and gathered it in with only his right arm as he fell to the turf for a 30-yard gain.
Graham, who had 367 yards to lead all NFL tight ends going into the game, now has 32 catches for 496 yards and three touchdowns in five games.
Saints kicker John Kasay, an original member of the Panthers who was released on July 28 after 16 seasons with the team, was perfect with field goals of 23, 46 and 37 yards in his return to Bank of America Stadium.
Kasay, who said he felt comfortable all day, received a warm welcome from the crowd of 72,679 before breaking their hearts with his three field goals.
“They pretty much yelled non-stop,” he said of Panthers’ fans seated behind the Saints bench. “Everyone has been very kind. That was one of the things that made it comfortable to me. People were very kind and welcoming.”
Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey tried to do everything he could to beat the team he played for from 2008-10, including trash-talking and tipping off formations to defensive coaches when the Saints broke the huddle.
“That was vintage Shockey,” a smiling Brees said after the game. “I can imagine him going to their coaches and saying, ‘These are their signs, this is what they do, here’s their snap count.’”
Saints strong safety Roman Harper touched off some pushing and shoving in a chippy game when he hit Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith late after Smith reached the end zone on a 54-yard TD catch in the first quarter.
Panthers tackle Jordan Gross and guard Travelle Wharton went after Harper, while Smith, who didn’t seem offended at first, mixed it up with free safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Players from both teams got into it periodically the rest of the game, but only one other personal foul was called after Panthers safety Jermale Hines was flagged at the end of a kickoff return in the second period.
The Saints inactives were center Olin Kreutz (knee), tackle Zach Strief (knee), tight end David Thomas (concussion), strongside linebackers Will Herring (hamstring) and Martez Wilson (shoulder), defensive end Jeff Charleston and wide receiver Adrian Arrington.
Brees threw a touchdown in his 32nd straight regular-season game when he tossed a 1-yarder to fullback Jed Collins in the first period. … It was the first NFL catch for Collins, who also scored on his first NFL carry last week at Jacksonville. … Brees completed 32 passes, extending his NFL record with 20 or more completions to 25 games in a row. … The Panthers have two players with Louisiana ties: former LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell and defensive tackle Ronald Fields, a Bogalusa native. … A moment of silence was observed just before kickoff Sunday in memory of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died Saturday at the age of 82.