Drew Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints held off Carolina’s late comeback bid to seal a 31-26 victory in their NFC wild-card game on Sunday.
The Panthers had a first down on the Saints 26-yard line with 58 seconds left, but heavy pressure by All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan a couple plays later induced an intentional grounding penalty on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, making it third-and-25 on the Saints 34 and a required 10-second runoff left 22 seconds on the clock.
After an incompletion in the end zone on third down, Vonn Bell sacked Newton on a safety blitz, ensuring the Saints (12-5) swept all three meetings with Carolina (11-6) this season, in addition to winning their first playoff game in four seasons.
In the victory, Punahou graduate Manti Te’o recorded five tackles and a pass break up. Hawaii Prep Academy’s Max Unger took every offensive snap at center for the Saints.
Kahuku’s Hau’oli Kikaha and Lahainaluna’s Mitchell Loewen are both on the Saints roster but are not active, having been placed on injured reserve.
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE:
NFC – Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
Saturday, 11:35 p.m. HST
AFC – Tennessee Titans (10-7) at New England Patriots (13-3)
Saturday, 3:15 p.m. HST
AFC – Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
Sunday, 8:05 a.m. HST
NFC – New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
Sunday, 11:40 a.m. HST