Saints crush Panthers, take No. 2 seed in NFC

Drew Brees threw touchdown passes to three different receivers as the New Orleans Saints defeated the host Carolina Panthers 33-7 in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Charlotte, N.C.The Saints (12-4), who had five different defenders make interceptions, became the first NFC South team to complete a six-game season sweep of the other three teams in the division. New Orleans will be the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and host the seventh-seeded Chicago BeatsNew Orleans did it without running back Alvin Kamara in their first game since his six-touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas night. Kamara was out because of a positive coronavirus test; his status for the playoffs is unclear.Brees’ last scoring pass was an 11-yard strike to Austin Carr on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Saints stretched their lead to 33-7.Brees finished 22 of 32 for 201 yards.Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who played for the Saints last season, was 13 of 23 for 176 yards and two interceptions before he was replaced midway through the third quarter. P.J. Walker came on and went 5-for-14 for 95 yards with three interceptions.The Panthers, with first-year coach Matt Rhule at the helm, finished 5-11.New Orleans running back Ty Montgomery gained 105 yards on 18 carries, and Taysom Hill picked up 41 rushing yards on seven attempts.The Saints went up 13-7 in the second quarter on Brees’ 8-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders, although Wil Lutz missed the PAT. Lutz made a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 16-7 lead.

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