The Carolina Panthers got a season-saving win on Thursday night, but the fourth quarter was a little more dramatic than they had hoping. The Panthers led the Saints 23-3 entering the final frame but needed a late first down to hang on for the 23-20 win.
“At that point in the game, we just got to keep fighting, keep believing in us and just keep putting it out there, leaving it out there on the field,” Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That’s what we did towards the end. That’s what resulted in a victory.”
Carolina scored just three points after halftime, which made Ted Ginn’s touchdown reception all the more important. Ginn hauled in a 40-yarder with seven seconds left in the first half to give Carolina a 20-3 lead.
“That’s what he do is catch touchdowns,” Ealy said. “He’s one of our key weapons. We got a lot of key weapons, but Ted just went out there and made a big play. That’s something that Ted does, along with all of our receivers. They’re all capable of making big plays.”
That was Cam Newton’s lone touchdown of the night. He finished 14-of-33 for 192 yards and also induced a few penalties.
“I’m definitely thinking they’re looking more in his way as far as protecting him,” Ealy said. “The only thing we can do is go out there and play as players and just hope that they make the right calls, which I know they will. They get paid, too.”
A scary moment occurred in the fourth quarter, when Luke Kuechly began sobbing on the field after stopping Tim Hightower for his 14th tackle of the night. Kuechly was apparently treated for a concussion.
“That’s Luke for you, as far as his performance,” Ealy said. “Now the injury, hopefully it’s minor, but (our) next-man mentality – we’re going to have faith that he’ll be back with us soon. Other than that, we just got to finish out the game and that’s what we did, especially for him. Make sure that injury wasn’t for nothing.”
The Panthers (4-6) have won three of four but play their next two on the road against elite competition: at Oakland (7-2) on Nov. 27 and at Seattle (6-2-1) on Dec. 4. They remain, along with New Orleans (4-6) at the bottom of the NFC South.
“It’s not what we expected coming into the season, but at the end of the day, we just got to keep going,” Ealy said. “It’s a process, and we understand that. We just believe in us. Just keep getting better each day and each week. We all we got and we believe in each other and we believe in what can do. We just got to finish games out.”