With about two minutes play in Sunday’s game, Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye’s 65-yard game-tying field goal attempt fell short and the Saints were able to seal a 27-24 win against their NFC South rival.
But the play before the attempt is what was key to the victory. Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport sacked Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a loss which pushed the Panthers attempt back to what would have been and NFL record.
“Based on the field goal attempt that I saw, that even if we sacked him with two yards less, there was a good chance that (Carolina’s kick) was going to go in,” Saint coach Sean Payton said. “Obviously, it was a big play defensively. They got in field goal range and all of a sudden that (sack) put them right on the edge. That was significant.”
The sack was was Davenport’s first of the year. The third-year player missed the first four games of the season while he recovered from and elbow and toe injury. Davenport said he was glad his first sack of the season came at such a pivotal moment.
"Getting a sack, especially your first of the season, is always one of those things that you feel like you've got to get out of the way,” Davenport said. “It was really great to be able to help out the team, especially in that time (of the game)."
The sack resulted in a loss of eight yards for the Panthers and Saint quarterback Drew Brees said plays like that show how crucial field position can be in a game.
“When you say it’s a game of inches or feet, it truly is,” he said. “That was obviously a huge play by (Marcus Davenport) to set them back and give them that long field goal. When it came off his foot, it was tracking. It fell short. I’m glad that we were able to get the first down and win the game.”