How does a winless, hopeless and inferior Carolina Panther team take the defending Super Bowl champs to the brink before finally succumbing to defeat?
Injuries – that’s how.
There’s definitely something wrong with the Saints and while we could try to search for a deeper meaning to their recent struggles, I think the reason is simple. They’re just too banged up on the offensive side of the ball and we better get used to lackluster wins like their 16-14 victory today until they’re healthy again.
Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas were both sidelined for New Orleans against Carolina and it showed. Drew Brees still managed to complete 33-of-48 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown, but the Panthers knew New Orleans couldn’t run the ball so they stayed back in coverage and allowed Brees to complete underneath passes. To Brees’ credit, he took what the defense gave him and led his team to a much-needed victory following last weekend’s overtime loss to the Falcons.
But Brees isn’t 100% either. He wore a brace on his sprained knee and although it didn’t look like it affected him too much, he was still hampered. Brees’ injury coupled with Bush and Thomas being held out, and suddenly the Saints look incredibly vulnerable.
Of course, this is the price that the defending champs pay. Every game is the opponent’s Super Bowl and when injuries pop up, you just have to deal with them and find ways to win. That’s what the Saints did on Sunday and while it wasn’t pretty, at the end of the day victories are all that matters.
Speaking of injuries, Panthers’ receiver Steve Smith suffered a high ankle sprain today and at the moment, there’s no timetable for his return. This news must make rookie Jimmy Clausen incredibly happy, as Smith has lived in the rookie’s ear for the past two weeks. I thought Smith may murder Clausen and leave his body on the Superdome carpet after Clausen wasn’t paying attention to the playclock and the Panthers had to burn a timeout.