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Panthers defeat Saints 22-14 behind stout defense

The Carolina Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints 22-14 at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday as the defense forced three fumbles and two interceptions in the contest.

After a nine-game losing streak, the Carolina Panthers tallied a win against Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints.

Coming into the contest, Winston posted a losing record against the Panthers with 16 interceptions and nine touchdowns. The Carolina defense pressed Winston further as he threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.

Starting with the bad, Baker Mayfield posted lackluster numbers, which is a growing concern. As coveted as he was a target for Carolina in the offseason, he's put up a completion percentage of 51.9. This is a far cry from the usual 60 percent he completed in years past. In week three, Mayfield completed 12 passes on 25 attempts for 170 yards and a touchdown. A 67-yard pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. was the lone touchdown pass. It boosted Mayfield's numbers considerably.

Despite two interceptions and a sack, Winston threw for 353 yards. It is not terrible when the black and blue held Alvin Kamara to 61 yards on 15 attempts, and 12 yards on two catches. But it is alarming for a team that ranked third in yards allowed against the pass.

Robbie Anderson saw four targets and made one catch. From eight to five to four, the looks are decreasing and so is the production. Against the Browns 102 yards, then 32 yards, then 14. It is concerning for a number two receiver to be such a small factor.

The best thing about this game was the defense. It was great to see the defense cause turnovers and pressure Winston. On six quarterback hits, including one sack, it was much needed for the black and blue to disrupt the offense. Also, holding a top back like Kamara to under 100 yards is a plus. Two interceptions are a huge momentum swing for a defense with no takeaways going into week three. Carolina forced three fumbles, and one it returned for a touchdown.

Christian McCaffrey carried the ball 25 times for 108 yards. His health posed a huge concern for Carolina in the years past. Running that much may not be the best thing, but he handled the work well and produced like the 2019 McCaffrey. He contributed little in the passing game on two receptions for seven yards, but he rushed for the most yards in the game.

Shenault Jr. made his 2022 debut, and he contributed immediately. Two receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown in an offense that needed a spark.

Looking ahead for the Panthers, it hosts the Arizona Cardinals in week four. AZ lost to the Rams and are 1-2. Carolina also beat the Red Birds in Cam Newton's return. While the Cardinals are a tough team, the odds favor Carolina by 1.5. That is not a huge thing, but momentum plays a big role in football, and these teams are on opposite ends of a spectrum.

The Cardinals own an explosive QB in Kyler Murray and containing him will be the toughest challenge for the defense.

Carolina kicks off at 4:05 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.