It's really sad to grade this game because the Saints held the Panthers to 10 points on the road before that final drive. The one run by DeAngelo Williams of 43 yards was costly, though. The Saints came incredibly close to pitching a perfect game defensively… and unfortunately for them anything short of perfect was going to be a loss with this amateur hour offense. On to the grades.
Cameron Jordan: A- for the game (3.07 for the season) Equally impressive against the run and rushing the passer, Jordan just continues to have a Pro Bowl season. Finally the Sean Payton era drafted a defensive player that is lights out. He really is getting better with every game and a complete player. He was tied for the team lead with 5 tackles and had a sack.
Akiem Hicks: A- (2.87) If you didn't get a chance to see his sack I recommend you go back and watch it. I have never seen someone dominate a player like that before. Two players, actually. He took his blocker into his sack and tackle of Cam Newton. He also led the team in tackles with 5, and had a sack. Like Jordan he had a complete game. What a tandem they have turned out to be, hopefully for many years to come.
Brodrick Bunkley: C+ (2.60) He was spelled by Jenkins a good bit even though I thought the run defense was better with Bunkley in there. He had 1 tackle and a quiet day, though.
John Jenkins: C (2.67) He was eaten up on the one big run by Williams and pushed aside to create the monster hole. Other than that play he did ok, but this was not a dominating performance by him by any means. He had 2 tackles, but does deserve credit for chasing down a screen pass and making the backside pursuit tackle. Great effort there for a nose tackle.
Tyrunn Walker: B- (2.67) He had one tipped ball and a tackle. He came in mostly in pass rushing situations and got good interior push for the most part.
Glenn Foster: C+ (2.37) He was credited with two hurries and also did a decent job rushing the passer. Nothing special to point out, though.
Junior Galette: B (2.80) He had two tackles, both for a loss, and his sack which got him to 10 on the season. I always knew if he played enough he was destined for a double digit sack campaign, I'm glad the Saints finally trusted him on the field. Over all it's been worth it and he's definitely gotten better in all areas.
David Hawthorne: C (2.83) On the 43 yard run he had a shot at plugging that huge hole and ran right into a blocker instead. Overall he's been a good player this year, though, and he did some nice things in this game too. He had 4 tackles.
Curtis Lofton: B+ (2.89) I thought he was great for the most part, and better in coverage than usual. He had 4 tackles and a beautiful delayed blitz that resulted in a sack.
Parys Haralson: C- (2.45) He had 1 tackle and really brought very little during his time on the field. He wasn't a factor in stopping the run and we know his strengths don't lie elsewhere.
Keenan Lewis: C+ (2.78) Not his best day in coverage as he was beat over the top by Steve Smith on a deep ball early. He was fortunate that Smith was injured and he didn't have to worry about him after that. He was also fortunate that the ball was sailing on Newton. Between that and the weather, the degree of difficulty in coverage was easy. But he can't be blamed for the final drive, the bal wasn't coming his way. He had 3 tackles.
Corey White: D+ (2.42) Not a very active day for White, but he was in coverage one on one for the game winning touchdown. Hard to give him a better grade when he was victimized when it mattered most and the game was on the line. He had 2 tackles.
Trevin Wade: C+ (2.33) Came in briefly as a reserve cover guy and did ok. He was fortunate on a LaFell drop, though.
Malcolm Jenkins: B- (2.56) He came up with a huge interception on the opening drive to put momentum back with the Saints. That was the team's first takeaway since the Falcons game and they really needed that. He finished with 3 tackles and pretty ok beyond that, but whiffed on a blitz on the final touchdown that could have maybe stopped Carolina.
Roman Harper: D (2.33) He continues to be an absolute liability in coverage and struggled on Greg Olsen. In particularly he gave up a play on the final drive that set up the Panthers to win. The addition of Vaccaro and emergence of Rafael Bush meant less Harper exposure on passing plays, but the absence of both forced him to do what he does poorly, and he was exposed. He had 3 tackles.
Kenny Vaccaro: C (2.67) The personal foul facemask and taunting penalties were classic Vaccaro, He's physical, aggressive and sometimes you're going to pay for it. He had 2 tackles before wrecking his ankle and he's likely done for the season now. This loss really hurts, as he had a great rookie campaign. I have to believe his presence on the field would have made a difference on that final touchdown drive.
Isa Abdul-Quddus: C- (2.50) Not a great day in over the top coverage for him, as he was always a step late to the ball. I feel like his ball hawking instincts from a year ago are gone, and he continues to take bad angles in run support. He had 2 tackles.
Shayne Graham: B (3.00) He was perfect on his two field goals and his extra point. The Saints didn't trust him from 52 yards out, though, and his kick height was very low on his short field goal, so he was fortunate it wasn't blocked.
Luke McCown: D (1.00) He threw one pass on a fake field goal of sorts, and airmailed Jimmy Graham badly. I feel bad giving him a bad grade based on one play, but he had single coverage there and should have at least put Graham in a position to have a chance with that ball.
Justin Drescher: C (2.00) Not that it would have mattered anyway, since Drescher blatantly held on the play anyway to prevent McCown from getting sacked. Since I haven't graded Drescher all season and he's been perfect on snaps for the most part, though, I'm giving him a C.
Thomas Morstead: B (3.33) He averaged 48.6 yards on 7 punts and a net of 42.9 which is very solid. He executed an onsides kick perfectly. Overall he did a fantastic job of neutralizing Ted Ginn who is as dangerous as they come as a return man. I'd give him an A if it weren't for that last punt that was way short and gave the Panthers manageable yardage. Sadly he saved his worst punt for when it mattered most.
Will Herring: B+ (2.50) He had a good open field tackle on Ted Ginn and downed a punt inside the 10.
Ramon Humber: B+ (2.70) He recovered the onsides kick and was alert in making sure the ball went 10 yards first. Give him credit that was a huge play.
Rod Sweeting: C+ (2.33) He missed an opportunity at pinning a punt inside the 5 by losing it in the air. He also had a nice tackle.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Cameron Jordan
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Ramon Humber