Cam Newton forced from Wild Card game after brutal hit

Panthers running backs cut wrestling promo for Saints playoff

The Saints move on to play at Minnesota next Sunday. They drove as far as the Saints' 21 before the drive stalled and went backwards.

Newton returned and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to running back Christian McCaffrey to get the Panthers within 31-26 with 4:09 to go. But in revisions to its concussion policy announced December 29, the National Football League said it would "require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand)". "It was very clear that they were determined to play (against) the run, so there were probably going to be some plays on the outside".

"What we've shown offensively is we have a lot of ways to be effective", Brees said, mentioning clutch first-down catches by Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead in addition to the big plays by Ginn and Thomas.

Brees consistently found his targets with Michael Thomas shining to haul in eight catches for 131 yards. The play turned into some good fortune for the Saints as it gave the Saints defense an extra 20 yards of cushion to work with. However, Panthers lineman Trai Turner was also flagged for holding, offsetting that penalty.

The only Vikings player remaining from the 2009 NFC championship game is defensive end Brian Robison.

Newton, who would complete 24-of-40 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, gave it his best before making a critical mistake in the waning seconds.

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers each are getting starting offensive linemen back for their early round playoff matchup.

Instead of carrying the "Bring the Wood" bat as he did in pre-game of the Saints' playoff opener against the Arizona Cardinals during the Super Bowl run, Bush simply wore a No. 91 Saints jersey in honor of late teammate Will Smith.

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Carolina posted four drives of 50-plus yards that lasted at least five plays.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished with 376 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but prior to Ginn's touchdown, Carolina's defense had him looking a little discombobulated, and held the Saints to minus-9 yards of offense on their first two drives of the game. 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. The Panthers had the ball inside the Saints' 25-yard line three times in the first half and came away with just six points.

Graham Gano missing a 25-yard field goal in the first half.

QB Drew Brees: 11-11 record as a starter, 6,498 passing yards, 44 TD passes, 19 INT, sacked 35 games in 22 games vs. Panthers dating back to '06.

Newton failed to complete a pass to Clay on third-and-2, which sent Gano out for the failed field-goal try.

Brees was then intercepted to leave the Panthers a small chance - two minutes and zero timeouts.

It wasn't scoreless for long. He got things going in the first quarter with a deep throw to speedy wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., a former Panther, for an 80-yard touchdown.

So much for the theory that it's too hard to beat a team three times in a season.

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