News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 PFF ReFocused: New Orleans Saints 34, Carolina Panthers 31

The New Orleans Saints nearly let the Carolina Panthers come back and win after taking an early lead, but kicker Will Lutz ultimately nailed a game-winner as time expired to pull off the 34-31 win in regulation.

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PFF's ReFocused series features immediate takeaways from the two analysts who graded the game live. The two offer a detailed breakdown of the game's most notable performances before the grades and advanced stats are reviewed and finalized by Senior Analysts.

All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game and the other games played this week will 1be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle. ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats.

PFF's ELITE subscribers can also preview NFL and NCAA games in PFF Greenline, an online dashboard with projections for the spread, totals and moneyline.

Final Score

New Orleans Saints 34, Carolina Panthers 31

New Orleans Saints

Cameron Jordan was a force as a pass rusher, as he routinely won his one on one matchups. He committed a bad personal foul penalty trying to punch the ball out of Kyle Allen‘s hands after a play early in the game, but he made up for the mistake with his play between the whistles. 

The Saints' defense struggled significantly in coverage against Allen and the Panthers' passing attack. Most notable, cornerback P.J. Williams gave up over 100 yards and two touchdowns on his way to what should be one of the lowest coverage grades on the team.

Drew Brees was highly accurate again on Sunday but did throw one interception. Tre’Quan Smith caught a wide-open red-zone touchdown after Eric Reid appeared to bite on play-action. Latavius Murray had a 26-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Jared Cook was a problem for the Panthers' defense all game. He beat Reid on an out-and-up route for a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Michael Thomas had yet another productive game and beat James Bradberry for a three-yard touchdown on a third-quarter slant route.

Cleveland Browns

Bruce Irvin got a second-quarter sack of Brees as he fled the pocket. Brian Burns had a late fourth-quarter after beating Patrick Omameh outside. Reid came up with a big fourth-down run stop as he tackled Alvin Kamara for a loss to end a fourth-quarter Saints drive.

When Kyle Allen wasn't checking the ball down to running back Christian McCaffrey, he was handing the ball off to him. Allen played the role of game manager for most of the game but did find second-year wide receiver DJ Moore for a few chunk games.

Luke Kuechly made an impressive pass breakup in the end zone on a seam route intended for Cook. Kuechly had another pass breakup in the fourth quarter. Tre Boston had a leaping interception on a deep pass intended for Tre'Quan Smith in the fourth quarter.

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