Saints win isn’t pretty, but a win is a win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 2, 2001

NEW ORLEANS – It wasn’t pretty, but at this point, the New Orleans Saints will take a win any way they can get it.

The Carolina Panthers, a team that had only notched one win all season came oh-so-close to putting the final nail in the Saints playoff coffin, before Ricky Williams came to the rescue and kicked the lid off.

His dramatic 42-yard catch and run with just more than two minutes remaining in the game set up the winning score, as the Saints (6-5) overcame the Panther prowl, winning 27-23, in front of an announced sellout crowd of 70,020.

Email newsletter signup

Three plays later, Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks hit wide receiver Joe Horn for a 17-yard touchdown that gave the Saints the victory. The loss was the 11th straight for the Panthers.

&uot;We let the Carolina hang around,&uot; Saints coach Jim Haslett said. &uot;We played a little inconsistent on offense, but we picked it up when we had to, and that is what it boils down to.&uot;

The Saints outgained their opponents in total yardage, 432-150, with the Panthers getting nearly half of that total in the final frame alone. Williams finished the game with 102 yards rushing on 27 carries and hit the 1,000-yard plateau for the second time in as many seasons, while becoming the first Saint to do so. Maybe one of the biggest reasons for Williams’ day, was the improved play of former Southern Miss standout Darryl Terrell, who is now the starter at left tackle after Willie Roaf went down for the year with a knee injury.

&uot;I think he did a good job, Haslett praised. &uot;He gets better and better every time he plays.&uot;

And as for Horn, well, perhaps the best pass defense on him all day long, came not from a Carolina defensive back, but from back judge Phil Luckett,who he collided into on the Saints first series.

At the 8:27 mark and the Saints facing second and 8 from the Panther 46, Brooks handed off to Williams, who then turned and pitched it back to his quarterback on the flea-flicker. With Horn racing wide open to the end zone, the catch appeared to be his, but although there was no one else within a 25 yard radius of the two, Luckett froze and the impact caused Horn, who never saw him, to drop the football at the goal line.