Brees leads Saints past Panthers in NFC wild card game

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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. "I mean, he was injured", Rivera said. "We nearly let them back in the game, but here I am standing as victor".

Newton echoed his coach's description of what happened during the game. Carolina had also contained the Saints' dynamic rushing attack, holding prolific running back tandem Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to a combined 41 rushing yards.

It's the traditional chant of New Orleans football fans - because of it they've simply become known as Who Dats - and Sunday it was apparently louder than ever.

Gritty stuff from Newton and the Panthers for sure, but on a day defined more by their missed opportunities, Brees could hardly miss a throw. Safety Mike Adams didn't get to Brees on blitzes on two TD throws.

Newton was slow to get up after New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata hit him with 8 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the Panthers' 31-26 loss.

Panthers leading receiver Devin Funchess, too, is active as expected after being listed as questionable with a sore shoulder.

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"It just fills up all of a sudden and you feel the intensity of the games and the crowd", Smart said. "I'm not going to take the cowardly way and point somebody else out".

New Orleans' defense, in particular, has played much better since the Minnesota loss, when the Saints gave up 470 yards and allowed the Vikings to convert nine of 14 third downs.

"Our coaches want to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands fast, so they dial it up", Bell said.

Two plays after Gano's miss, Drew Brees connected with former Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. for an 80-yard touchdown to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.

But Newton was first called for a controversial grounding call, that took the Panthers 20 yards away from the endzone, and then sacked to end the game. "The ball was spread around quite a bit and guys were making plays when they had the chances".

"We weren't sharp, we made some bad plays and did some stupid stuff, but we found a way to win and that's all that matters", Bortles said.

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Newton, however, was only taken into the team's medical tent rather than the locker room. Gutekunst has been Green Bay's player personnel director for almost two years, though he has been with the Packers' player personnel department for almost two decades.

"It's hard to beat a team three times in a season", has been a popular refrain since the Saints were paired with the Panthers.

Newton wound up completing 24 of 40 passes for 349 yards.

"We lost. That's all I remember", Bell said.

With eight receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns, Olsen recorded his third career playoff game with over 100 yards receiving. Backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny sacked Newton to force a field goal at the start of the third quarter. Newton, who was drafted first overall by Carolina in 2011, said after the game that he has a really good relationship with Richardson.

Panthers: Begin the offseason after their fourth trip to the playoffs in five years lasted on game.

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