“Hey Cam Newton. Sorry about Thursday night (well, not really).Perhaps you shoulda talked to Aaron Rodgers. See ya in New Orleans on Dec. 7!- Who Dat Nation.”
For the second time in five days, the Saints had their defensive way with one of the NFL's top dual-threat quarterbacks, this time earning a 28-10 win against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium.
Newton, meanwhile, was relegated to his worst game as a pro.
He finished with 10 of 28 completions for 151 yards and one interception. Newton also rushed seven times for 43 yards, including a 10-yard run early in the third quarter. He was sacked four times, including one in the second quarter that caused a lost fumble. The turnover led to the first Saints scoring drive, the beginning of a long night for Newton, whose speed, size and arm strength have caused his NFC South rival issues in the past.
Newton exited Thursday's game with a passer rating of 39.4.
"We had the takeaways that were real important in the game," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "It was good to see the pressure and the sacks; a lot of the things that really directly affected the turnovers.”
Newton's previous-worst outing was a Week 3 loss to the New York Giants during his second season (2012), when he finished with a 40.6 rating. You listening, Colin Kaepernick?
The Saints (4-4) return to the field Nov. 9 against Kaepernick (another dual-threat quarterback) and the San Francisco 49ers.
While the Saints ended their first two possessions (Drew Brees interception; Brees sack/fumble), Newton failed to capitalize.
The Saints defense allowed Newton's offense just two plays over 20 yards: A 47-yard Newton pass to Jerricho Cotchery in the third quarter and in also in the third, Newton's 30-yard screen pass to running back DeAngelo Williams. By comparison, the Saints had four.
You'd think Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks (sack, four tackles) would be pleased, even satisfied with his unit's effort against Newton, who last season, rallied late in Charlotte to beat the Saints in a game which crowned the Panthers as NFC South champions. The bug guy is not.
"I feel like there's still another level that we can push ourselves to," Hicks said. "There were certain times he was able to break our containment and get outside the pocket and make a good play down the field. And you know what? As a defense, you don't want to see that. “That's why only shutouts are totally satisfying for defenses.
"You don't want your defense to give up anything. There's still another level to get to, and we haven't reached that point."
Ingram's Big Day
Between Sunday and Thursday night, Mark Ingram has rushed 54 times for 272 yards and three touchdowns, a throwback effort to the pre-1990s NFL.
Ingram's extra work, though, may soon slow down. Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) missed their second game, but could return in time for San Francisco. Whenever they return, Payton said Ingram's workload will decrease.
Asked if Ingram (431 yards, 4.9 yards per carry this season) has accomplished enough during the past two games to earn a larger role, Payton said yes.
"The key is durability," Payton said. "But he's been outstanding. I think that that Sunday and what he did last night — that's a lot of touches. And so we're going to have to, as we get guys healthy, break those up and yet, to his credit, he's handled that workload."
Saints punt return issue
The Saints punt return issues continued to irk Payton, who has threatened change if immediate improvement is not seen. Against the Panthers, cornerback Brian Dixon was penalized twice for illegal use of the hands.
Rookie Brandin Cooks called fair catches on four punts, while returning two for 2 yards.
"We're still a work in progress in our punt return game," Payton said. "We had several penalties on that last night. ... We have to figure out or replace the problems on that team.”
Brees' quarterback sneak Drew Brees' quarterback sneak inside the Carolina 1 was not in the Saints offensive playbook, Payton said. Brees convinced Payton that he could score on the fourth-down play in the third quarter.
"When I know what he wants to do," Payton said, "I'm like, 'go ahead.' "
Brees' quick leap, where he extended the football beyond the plane of the end zone, gave the Saints a 21-7 lead.