Saints' playoff win means 49ers' second-round draft pick gets later

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Newton will be the key to the Panthers hopes for a win.

"Obviously, it was a hard-fought win", said Saints coach Sean Payton.

Newton returned to the game shortly after. Gano was responsible for 14 of the Panthers' 26 points on Sunday - four field goals and two extra points. This brought on Gano yet again for a 29-yard field goal, and the Saints held on to a 21-12 lead with 10:58 left in the third quarter. Newton is going to be under pressure a lot and you can bet the Saints will be spying him so that he doesn't beat them on the ground. New Orleans kept turning two of Newton's favorite targets loose; tight end Greg Olsen finished with eight catches for 107 yards, and rookie running back Christian McCaffrey added 101 yards on six catches. The pass was incomplete, but the Saints' Ken Crawley was called for pass interference. But he couldn't get his team into the end zone often enough, including on a final game-winning drive opportunity that was undone by a controversial intentional-grounding call.

It was testament to a defence that was aided all day by the Who Dats.

Derek Anderson replaced Newton for one play, an incompletion that forced the Panthers to punt.

The rest of the game he had the noise meter pushed up every time he stood under centre. "I do believe I am the leader of this team and the team goes as I go". "You look at what they've been doing over the last four or five weeks". "I thought the ball was past the line of scrimmage". Certainly your cadence is not used and that's an advantage offensively if you can use your cadence.

"I had Roman Harper (former Saint safety from the Super Bowl XLIV champions who was at the game) in my head", Bell said.

The NFL is "in contact now with the Panthers' medical staff and we will not comment further until those conversations are complete", a spokesman said Sunday night, via NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

"I think the excitement just builds between everyone", fan Joe Huson said.

In the first half alone, Brees connected on 13 of 18 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.

The Saints lost starting left guard Andreas Peat with a leg injury in the second quarter and his teammates rallied in his absence. Brees's long throw off a roll-out to wide receiver Michael Thomas set up what proved to be the decisive touchdown. We knew it was going to be a challenge.

Davis bit badly on a playaction fake that turned into an easy nine-yard touchdown from Brees to Hill; Kuechly whiffed trying to tackle Zach line on a fullback dive for the next touchdown.

The Saints rushed for only 41 yards, their lowest total of the season, against the Panthers and about 100 yards fewer than they ran for in the two previous regular-season victories over Carolina.

The Saints led 21-6 in the final minute of the first half, but the Panthers have since rallied to pull within less than a touchdown with more than 12 minutes to go.

There were dozens of players on the field on both sides Sunday in New Orleans' 31-26 playoff win over Carolina, but these 10 affected the game the most.

Brees' lone blemish came on that conversion, where he threw the ball up for grabs and Carolina safety Mike Adams came away with the interception.

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