The Buccaneers were off in week five, needing to reset everything after week four’s embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears. But while Tampa Bay was on its bye, the rest of the NFC South took the field. Let’s break down how the rest of the division did this past weekend.
New Orleans Saints (4-1)
The Saints pounded the Redskins, 43-19, on Monday Night Football for their fourth straight win. A 26-13 halftime lead for New Orleans quickly turned into a 40-13 lead in the third quarter. Despite trailing just 6-3 after one quarter, Washington couldn’t hang the rest of the way. The Saints were clicking all night on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they put up 447 yards. Defensively, they held Alex Smith and the Redskins to just 283 yards. Ever since that loss to Tampa Bay in week one, New Orleans has been on fire.
Drew Brees had a huge night, one that will be remembered forever. He completed 26 of his 29 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. With his 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie Tre’Quan Smith in the second quarter, Brees passed Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history. The game was halted so that the legendary quarterback could celebrate with his teammates, coaches, family and the home fans. Smith later caught another touchdown, finishing the night with three catches for 111 yards and two scores. Mark Ingram made a successful return from suspension, running for 53 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Up Next: at Baltimore Ravens (3-2)— Week Seven
Carolina Panthers (3-1)
The Panthers continued their quiet success on Sunday with a 33-31 victory over the Giants. Carolina took a 20-16 lead into the fourth quarter, but the final 15 minutes were full-on wild. Cam Newton connected with Christian McCaffrey for an 18-yard touchdown with 11:21 left to go up 27-16. But New York wasn’t done, as Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. linked up for a 33-yard touchdown before Manning hit Rhett Ellison for the two-point conversion. After a Graham Gano field goal made it 30-24, Manning threw a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown to rookie Saquon Barkley, giving the Giants a late lead. From there, Newton led the offense 30 yards to set up a game-winning 63-yard field goal by Gano. 63 yards!
Newton finished the day 21-of-35 for 237 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions. McCaffrey ran for 58 yards and caught five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. But Gano was the hero, delivering four field goals, including the 63-yard game-winner.
Up Next: at Washington Redskins (2-2)
Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
The Falcons continued to struggle on Sunday, losing 41-17 to the Steelers. They fell behind 13-0 after one quarter, but fought back to 13-10 by halftime. The momentum didn’t carry over to the third quarter, as Pittsburgh scored 14 straight to extend its lead to 27-10. After Atlanta cut the deficit to 10, the defense couldn’t hold and the Steelers put the game away with two more touchdowns. The banged-up Falcon defense allowed 381 yards on the day.
Matt Ryan was fairly effective, throwing for 285 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-38 passing. Devonta Freeman didn’t do much in his return from injury, rushing for 32 yards on just eight carries. Star wide receiver Julio Jones is still without a touchdown this season, despite already having 564 yards.
Up Next: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)