Pineiro kick gives Panthers 10-7 victory over Saints ::


— When Steve Wilkes coached his last game for the Panthers, he can walk away knowing his players didn’t abandon him.

Eddie Pineiro kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired, and Carolina ended its season with an opportunistic 10-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“The guys showed up today,” said Wilkes, who became the interim coach after the 6-6 firing of Matt Rule. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout the year, and for these guys to circle the vans again and find a way to come together and win a football game is pretty impressive.”

The Saints finished with a big statistical advantage, outgaining Carolina 304 yards to 203, but the game remained tight the rest of the way as New Orleans failed to field four possessions inside the Panthers’ 40-yard line.

“We had to beat somebody, but we didn’t,” Saints quarterback Cameron Jordan said after a three-game winning streak was snapped in New Orleans. “Not finishing the way we wanted to is going to be frustrating for a while.”

The Saints (7-10) were in a position to win when Daniel Sorensen intercepted Sam Darnold near midfield and returned it to the Carolina 35 with 1:36 left. But New Orleans failed to move the ball on three plays, and Will Lutz missed a 55-yard field goal, his second of the game.

Darnold moved Carolina (7-10) within field goal range on a first down in the final minute, then followed with a 21-yarder to former LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. for just the fifth time of the game.

Darnold finished 5 of 15 for 43 yards and was intercepted twice in the win despite a 2.8 quarterback rating. But the Panthers rushed for 171 yards, led by Chuba Hubbard’s 69 yards on 21 carries.

“It wasn’t pretty, but in the end we did it, and that’s the main thing,” Darnold said. “I’m just proud of our resilience.”

Carolina scored its only TD on a Darnold fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Panthers lineman Michael Jordan.

New Orleans’ Andy Dalton was 15 of 25 for 171 yards and one touchdown against Chris Olaway. Alvin Kamara rushed for 107 yards.

The Saints took a 7-0 lead after Olave scored a 25-yard TD on the game’s opening drive, but New Orleans wasted its next three scoring opportunities in the first half.

“The way we started this game is the way you want to start,” Dalton said. “We also had opportunities at other points in the game and we didn’t take them, didn’t make the play when we needed to. … The evaluation should have looked completely different.”

Lutz missed from 44 yards. Kamara’s run was stuffed on fourth-and-1. And after Saints safety Tyrone Mathieu intercepted Darnold near the goal line, New Orleans turned it over when Olave fumbled at Carolina’s 25-yard line.

The Panthers, who were outgained 234 yards to 60 in the first half, opened the second half with a 14-play, 82-yard drive to tie the game at 7 on a Jordan fumble.

Under first-time coach Dennis Allen, the Saints finished with a 10-loss season for the first time since 2005, the year before his predecessor, Sean Payton, was hired. (The Saints had five 7-9 seasons from 2007 to 2016.)

“We’re going to evaluate everything,” Allen said. “No one makes any decisions about anything 30 minutes after we leave the pitch.”


Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman and Saints linebacker Marcus Davenport were ejected in the third quarter for hitting after the whistle moments after Davenport’s fumble on Foreman. Foreman had 12 carries for 67 yards. Davenport had three tackles.


Panthers: Marquis Haynes appeared to hurt his ankle in the first half. Left tackle Brady Christensen was taken to the locker room on a cart in the first half.

Saints: Rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning, making his first career start, limped off with an apparent leg injury with 1:33 left.


Panthers: Start the offseason with uncertainty over who will coach in 2023 and a decision on whether to stick with Darnold at QB.

Saints: Head into Allen’s first full offseason with six offensive and defensive tackles and several regulars from all three units entering free agency. The club’s future at QB is also uncertain.


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Pineiro kick gives Panthers 10-7 victory over Saints ::

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