Drew Brees, Cam Jordan make sure Saints don't squander long-awaited playoff return

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But that nomenclature doesn't seem to apply this season as the NFC South has produced 3 playoff teams this season; the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Carolina Panthers. Newton, who was drafted first overall by Carolina in 2011, said after the game that he has a really good relationship with Richardson.

Meanwhile, receiver Ted Ginn, known primarily as a deep threat before the Saints acquired him in the offseason, demonstrated enough chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees as the season progressed to convert key first downs on intermediate routes as well.

The Panthers, who settled for three field goals in four attempts in the first half, drove to another field goal on the first possession of the third quarter.

Kelemete, pressed into service often this season because of injuries, filled in at guard after Peat fractured his fibula against the Panthers. He had to be carted off with his left leg immobilized.

Saints: Move on to play at Minnesota in the NFC Divisional playoffs. The former Ohio State Buckeye will get to match talents with former MI wide receiver Devin Funchess, who leads the Panthers with 63 catches for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome provided the Dome-field advantage so important to success during the Brees-Sean Payton era, including the Saints' Super Bowl run in 2009.

The Panthers were without timeouts when the Saints faced the fourth-and-2 at the Carolina 47. Olsen got wide open near the right sideline to get the Panthers to the red zone, then worked himself free in the end zone, as Carolina finally didn't settle for a field goal.

Brees consistently found his targets with Michael Thomas shining to haul in eight catches for 131 yards.

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The Saints lost the 2017 season opener at Minnesota, 29-19, in its worst game of the season.

Jordan, meanwhile, topped off his day with a monster bull rush that forced an intentional-grounding penalty by Cam Newton to stifle a heart-stopping last-minute rally.

It was full speed ahead from there, with the Saints keeping the lead until the end.

With 58 seconds left, the Panthers had a first down on the Saints 26-yard line.

The Saints were improved this season in large part because Brees had so much help. With the top-seed Eagles missing Carson Wentz and an underdog to the sixth-seeded Falcons next Saturday, the Saints-Vikings victor would host the NFC championship game if the Falcons win. And that's precisely what Brees did, throwing for 376 yards and two touchdowns. If you go back and watch the film from a year ago, you will see Klein practically calling the offensive plays for his defense.

-Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram averaged 193 yards from scrimmage this season.

Newton was pressured the most in the fourth quarter. You can effectively take the first two games and toss them into the trash receptacle.

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