Saints eliminate Panthers in Wildcard showdown

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were eliminated by the New Orleans Saints 31-26 in an NFC Wildcard game on Sunday. PHOTO CREDIT: Ed Clemente/MGN

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints held off Carolina’s late comeback bid to seal a 31-26 victory in their NFC wild-card game on Sunday.

The Panthers had a first down on the Saints 26-yard line with 58 seconds left, but heavy pressure by All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan a couple plays later induced an intentional grounding penalty on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, making it third-and-25 on the Saints 34 and a required 10-second runoff left 22 seconds on the clock.

After an incompletion in the end zone on third down, Vonn Bell sacked Newton on a safety blitz, ensuring the Saints (12-5) swept all three meetings with Carolina (11-6) this season, in addition to winning their first playoff game in four seasons.

New Orleans will play at Minnesota next Sunday at 4:40 p.m. in the NFL Divisional Round.

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