Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Saints' win over Carolina 31-26; will face the Vikings

Saints' win over Carolina 31-26; will face the Vikings

For the first time since the 2013 playoffs, one division sent three teams to the National Football League playoffs. The Saints defeated the St. Louis Rams, 31-28, on December 30, 2000, in the dome for their first-ever playoff win after splitting during the regular season.

Coverage of this game airs on FOX beginning at 4:40 pm ET on Sunday from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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The defense, thanks to a big stop on third down by 37-year-old Julius Peppers and an ill-advised interception by Mike Adams the cost Carolina 16 yards of field position, gave Newton the ball back one last time, with 1:51 to play.

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Cam Newton did not play well in two losses to the Saints this season.

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

New faces for both teams: Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Panthers tight end Greg olsen, who sat out the teams' two regular season meetings, will return to the lineup for the postseason showdown.

Four teams that weren't in the playoffs last season are assured of playing next weekend - Tennessee, Philadelphia and the winners of Jacksonville-Buffalo and Carolina-New Orleans.

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The Dukes' Simeyon Robinson blocked Cam Pedersen's 38-yard field goal attempt and they got the ball at the 27 with 4:37 remaining. Schor had two interceptions, including one by Marquise Bridges in his first career start at the NDSU 3 late in the third quarter.

But the Panthers will get their own boost.

Thomas caught eight passes for 131 yards on a day when the Saints needed the passing game to compensate for a ground game that struggled to get going.

Two years later, the Panthers took down NY in the first round and Chicago in the divisional round, and Seattle pummeled Carolina in the 2005 NFC Championship game. "What we were during the preseason wasn't a fluke; it's something we can truly be.' And we rolled with it from there", Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said of that Week 3 awakening. The early run-game success (see above) will get the Saints linebackers to bite on play-action fakes, creating some space for Olsen in the secondary. "Not having him is significant and having him is huge", Saints coach Sean Payton said. Guard Richie Incognito left the game with a shoulder injury and is questionable to return. "You look at what they've been doing over the last four or five weeks".

"It's a good thing and a bad thing on both sides of the ball", said Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who has been on both sides of the ball with regard to this game.

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Saints: DE Trey Henderson (ankle), OL Terron Armstead (thigh) are QUESTIONABLE.

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