CHARLOTTE – All things considered, quarterback Kyle Allen played arguably the best game of his career in Sunday's 34-31 loss at New Orleans.
Consider the opponent – the division-leading Saints. Consider the venue – the raucous Superdome. Consider the quarterback he was dueling with – Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Consider the fact that Carolina trailed by 14 in the first half and 13 in the second half and rallied to tie the game.
Still, combining all that doesn't change the fact that Carolina suffered their third-straight defeat.
"It is incredibly frustrating. It does not matter how you play," Allen said. "At the end of the day when they look back on the season it's going to be a loss. There's going to be no asterisk saying they almost won. It's a loss. It's frustrating."
There are no moral victories in the NFL, but especially after having just played the worst game of his career with four interceptions in a loss to Atlanta, this was undoubtedly a promising performance in a losing effort.
"Kyle responded tremendously well," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Made good decisions, delivered some good balls.
"Kyle learns and very seldom makes the same mistake twice. He gets it, he understands. That's one of the biggest strengths he has. The more reps he gets the more he's going to grow as a football player. I'm pretty excited about it."
The Panthers couldn't have asked for much more from Allen against the Saints.
He completed 23-of-36 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 112.7.
He took what the defense was giving him and utilized Christian McCaffrey as an outlet, completing all nine passes to the star running back for 69 yards.
"Taking what they give you," Allen said. "That's not something I was doing good the past couple weeks."
Allen also finally connected on a deep ball, hitting wide receiver DJ Moore for a 51-yard touchdown to get Carolina on the board in the first quarter.
Another impressive statistic? No turnovers. Allen has been burned recently trying to force the ball when nothing is there. He managed the game much better in New Orleans.
"He moved around and threw the ball away," Rivera said. "He got it out of bounds, he got it toward the receiver and to the ground, stuff like that. He did those things a lot better."
Added Allen: "Just got to keep trying to play mistake free football and give us a chance to win."
That wasn't enough to earn a win over the rival Saints.
Carolina needed one more score, and they came up empty after having first-and-goal at the 3-yard line with 2:21 remaining.
Brees, the veteran with 19 years of NFL experience, seized the moment and drove his team down for the game-winning field goal.
But the 23-year-old quarterback with 10 starts under his belt went toe-to-toe with an all-timer and didn't look out of place.
"He's a fighter. The guy comes out there and doesn't blink," McCaffrey said of Allen. "We love playing with him. He's a heck of a quarterback. He put the ball where it was supposed to go, and guys came up and made some catches and made some plays."
View behind-the-scenes photos from the field, sideline and the locker room from Sunday's heartbreaking loss at New Orleans.