Panthers vs. Saints 2013: New Orleans 'strengthens claim' on second seed

Wesley Hitt

New Orleans left no doubt which team owns the NFC South, pounding Carolina in primetime.

The New Orleans Saints served notice to the NFL that they remain an elite team, dismantling the Carolina Panthers 31-13 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Sunday night.

New Orleans fell behind 6-0 then scored 31 unanswered points. Drew Brees led the way for the Saints, throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Marques Colston was the main target throughout the night, catching nine balls for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Jimmy Graham also had a pair of touchdowns, hauling in six passes for 58 yards.

Rob Ryan's defense also stymied Carolina for much of the night, sacking Cam Newton five times. Junior Galette had the best game of his career, earning three of those sacks.

Over at Canal Street Chronicles, Jon Oliver wrote about Brees and the road ahead for the Saints:

Drew Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history to surpass 50,000 passing yards within 183 games.  All four touchdowns for New Orleans were delivered by the elite quarterback's arm, with two touchdown passes each to Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham.

Solidifying their control over the NFC South division, and strengthening their claim on the No.2 seed in the NFC, the Saints now face two conference games on the road... including a rematch of tonight's game, in Carolina.

The Panthers now sit at 9-4 and in the No. 5 seed. To win the NFC South, Carolina would need to win out and have the Saints go 1-2 at best.

Edgar Salmingo Jr. of Cat Scratch Reader took a tough stance following the disappointing defeat:

As we wind the season down, this loss could not come at a worse time. Does this team make a deep playoff run? Or was this winning streak merely covering up the litany of warts on the offensive line and in the secondary? Do we have a Super Bowl contender or pretender? One thing is for sure, we will definitely find out when the Panthers play the Saints again in two weeks. If the Panthers continue to falter down the stretch, this season may be one that "shall not be named."

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