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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 30: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 30, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The loudest cheer all day long may have been when Teddy Bridgewater walked into the huddle for the first time as a starter in the black and gold. The debut occurred because the New Orleans Saints clinched home field advantage. Now it was time finally for Who Dat Nation to take a peek at the possible heir to the dynasty of Drew Brees.

Carolina Beatdown

The Saints were defeated soundly by the Carolina Panthers 33-14. That being said, the beatdown was much bigger. The Panthers scored on every possession in the first half. Rookie quarterback Kyle Allen looked more like John Elway. Allen was 16 of 27 for 228 yards and one touchdown. No turnovers for the Saints defense.

A pass rush that disappeared. Also, the worse part of the day was just the lackadaisical intensity. “We can spin it any way we want to but we didn’t play well,” Coach Sean Payton said. “Credit Carolina, they came ready to play.”

Nothing more needs to be added. Of course, Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara were not active. And yeah, the game itself had no impending consequences win or lose. But make no mistake, the defense slept through the first half. Honestly, the lackluster play spread like a virus.

Teddy Wasn’t Ready

Teddy Bridgewater didn’t exactly light it up either.  Bridgewater was 14 of 22 for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception. There were times early on where Bridgewater didn’t seem comfortable and couldn’t find anyone. On the other hand, there were a few decent throws and good reads.

All in all, his performance didn’t stand out. And really to be fair, the offensive line did him no favors. The whole contest looked uninspiring. The lone bright spot was running back Dwayne Washington with 11 carries for 108 yards. Still, the performance got overshadowed by a team that looked to be on a holiday vacation. Fortunately, there are a couple of weeks to study film and prepare for a playoff game in two weeks.

The one nagging weakness that simply won’t go away is the ineptness of the secondary. And this game was no exception. Too many penalties and miscommunication yet again. The Saints must find out how quickly on how to glue this thing together by their next game.

Gotta be Hungry Going Forward

Still, the Saints finish the season at 13-3 and have surpassed most of the expectations before the season began. Now the postseason starts. Our season is three games. There is no next week if the Saints lose one. Hopefully, by that time, the sense of urgency will be present right after kickoff. Going forward, there are no gimmes in the playoffs even with home-field advantage.

Furthermore, with the addition of the Philadelphia Eagles making it in, the road to the Super Bowl became that much harder. If the Saints play their game with the home crowd behind them, no team can compete with us. The only team that can beat us is the New Orleans Saints. This team has been resilient all year. That one trait could bring us all the way to Atlanta and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

This team was built to be battle tested. They have shown that winning a game can come in very different ways.

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