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Offense held in check

Posted Dec 9, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – Five Saints had a catch that gained at least 20 yards.

For the Panthers, the longest play of the day went for 19 yards – a rush by quarterback Cam Newton.

Against a high-powered offense in a dome built for speed, the Panthers didn't produce the explosive plays needed to compete with quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints, who averaged 6.1 yards per play compared to Carolina's 3.9.

"I was trying to take what the defense gave me," said Newton, who finished 22-of-34 for 160 yards and one touchdown. "It was kind of a conservative day.

"There are just things I wish I had back. But it's the game of football. You don't get opportunities back."

After the Panthers produced two field goals on their first two possessions, Carolina didn't reach the red zone again until the 6:59 mark of the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Steve Smith finished that drive with a 17-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal.

"We didn't convert on third down like we normally do," said left tackle Jordan Gross, whose team went 6-of-15 on third downs. "I just didn't feel like we got in a very good grove offensively after those first two drives."

ALL EYES ON THE JETS: For the Panthers to now win the NFC South, they need to beat the Saints at Bank of America Stadium in Week 16 to have a chance.

Several players were asked about that looming rematch, but they insisted they are entirely focused on the New York Jets team that is next on the schedule.

"We will be ready for those guys this upcoming Sunday," Newton said.

Said linebacker Thomas Davis: "Our focus has to be on the Jets right now. We can't look past those guys. Then we'll get our turn at New Orleans again."

STEWART HURT: Running back Jonathan Stewart suffered a knee injury early in the third quarter and did not return.

After a 16-yard catch, Stewart took a hard hit from cornerback Keenan Lewis and was a slow to get up.

Head coach Ron Rivera expressed concern but didn't know the extent of the injury.

"Yeah (there is concern)," Rivera said. "He banged that leg. We'll see how it is."