The Saints escaped the Panthers' lair with a win

The good, bad and ugly from the Saints win over the Panthers

Michael C Hebert/Saints team site

The Saints continue their playing-with-fire ways and barely escaped Carolina with a 12-9 win over the Panthers. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Sean Payton dialed up the right play on 4th & inches just before the two minute warning in an attempt to ice the game. The Panthers packed the line in anticipation of an inside run or quarterback sneak. They rushed from the huddle and Drew Brees pitched it to Alvin Kamara for a first down.

-The pass rush was able to harass Cam Newton to the tune of four sacks. The number likely could have been higher if Newton wasn't the size of most tight ends or defensive ends.

-Eli Apple was sent packing from the Giants earlier this year. The former first round pick came up with a key interception in the end zone while playing man coverage on the 6'5 Devin Funchess.

The Bad

-Panthers go for it on 4th & 2 on the 50 yard line early in the first quarter. Not only did they convert, but they scored a touchdown on the play. Christian McCaffrey took the handoff then threw it to a wide open Chris Manhertz for the score.

-Left guard Andrus Peat was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for pushing a Panthers defender well after the play had ended. The Saints were on their own 48 yard line and had gotten a first down. The penalty pushed them back to the 33 and they eventually had to punt.

-On their second and third possessions, the Saints failed to score touchdowns and had to settle for field goals. Those are drives this team had been finishing to start the season, but have settled for field goals or punts as of late.

The Ugly

-Center Max Unger went to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. The team is already without starting left tackle Terron Armstead. Potentially playing the season ending stretch without two starting offensive lineman is scary.

-Brees threw the rare pick two on a two point conversion attempt after they took a 12-7 lead. The Panthers had everything covered, but Brees decided to force a pass in a tight window on the run. It cut the lead to 12-9. Had he been a tad more patient, he had a tight end at the back of the end zone that would've been a better option.

-Tommy Lee Lewis had one job: DON'T FUMBLE! All he had to do was stay in bounds. The Saints could've kicked a field goal. Instead, the fumbled ball goes into the end zone and ruled a touchback. Although it gave the Panthers life, they couldn't take advantage of it.

The Saints now have over a 90% chance to secure homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs. They're playing like a dumpster fire on offense instead of just being on fire like they were earlier this year. They've got some work to do in order to make another Super Bowl run. Good thing it seems as if that road will go through New Orleans.

Every-Thing Sports

Texans vs Chiefs: Good, bad & ugly

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The Texans and Deshaun Watson won the battle of the two best quarterbacks from the 2017 draft over Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-24. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Although both young quarterbacks had two turnovers each, it was Watson who outdueld Mahomes. He had a total of 322 yards and three touchdowns to Mahomes' 272 yards and three touchdowns. It was his ballsy playmaking ability on two fourth down conversions, as well as his timely rushing touchdowns in a big time road win that put him over.

-Rookie defensive lineman Charles Omenihu had a crucial strip sack of Mahomes just before halftime. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney recovered the fumble and the Texans scored on the next play to go up 23-17 with their 20th unanswered points of the first half. This was a huge momentum shifter.

-Tashaun Gipson caught the first Mahomes interception of the season in the second quarter. The Chiefs were driving again and in field goal range when Mahomes took a shot at the end zone thinking he had a free play because of a potential pass interference/defensive holding call. The refs remarkably overruled the original call and ruled it an interception. Shocker!

The Bad

-Whitney Mercilus jumped offsides and Mahomes took a deep shot knowing he had a free play. Tyreek Hill won the jumpball over Justin Reid and Phillip Gaines. Hill is listed at 5'10, but looked as if he was 6'7 when he leaped to catch the ball. Reid appeared to have the ball in his grasp, but came up empty.

-Carlos Hyde fumbled on the first play from scrtimmage where he appeared to have simply lost his grip on the ball. The no-contact fumble was recovered by the Chiefs and led to a field goal to put the score at 10-0 about five minutes into the game.

-Watson threw a pick into double coverage trying to go for DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone while thewy were in field goal range down 24-23. It was his second pick of the day. It also came after Hopkins dropped a potential touchdown catch uncharacteristically taking his eyes off the ball before securing the catch.

The Ugly

-Horrible missed call on an offensive pass interference on the Chiefs opening drive! Travis Kelce basically threw a pass block that opened up Damien Williams for a huge 52-yard gain. The Texans challenged the call and the refs upheld it. This was the epitome of ref C.Y.A.

-The two teams combined for 14 penalties for 114 yards in the first half. That was most in a half this season. In an offensive shootout, penalties can kill you. They ended the game with 21 combined penalties for 149 yards.

-Rookie offensive lineman Tytus Howard was carted off with a leg injury on the third play of the 3rd quarter. It looked to be somewhat serious as his leg was rolled on and bent in a weird way. Bradley Roby gingerly walked off the field mid way throught he 3rd quarter and left the Texans with four healthy corners. Few plays later, Chiefs went up 24-23 on another Hill touchdown catch.

The Texans put together a great gameplan and it went as well as one could expect against a juggernaut like the Chiefs. Bill O'Brien deserves come credit. He gambled on a couple key 4th down conversions because he trusted Watson to do the right thing. He also committed to the run to the tune of 192 yards on the ground, despite Hyde's early fumble. Hyde himself ended up with 116 yards rushing. If O'Brien and Watson keep this up, there could be big things on the horizon. Next week's matchup against the Colts in Indy will tell us who's the big dog in the AFC South. Can O'Brien and Watson make magic again?

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