He could have easily been the goat had the Panthers taken advantage of his questionable decision, but in the end his defense prevailed, and the Saints are going on.
Fifteen weeks later, the Saints are 11-5 and back in the playoffs for the first time in four years and will be hosting those same Panthers, also now 11-5, on Sunday.
"Each game's different", said Payton, whose team took its first NFC South crown since 2011 by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker over Carolina. The biggest key is for the Panthers to get the ground game going. "I think he's smart, he's tough, he blocks for the run, he enjoys competing and quite honestly, he does so many little things well in regards to zone or man that (on) third down or red zone". Case in point was a Week 4 victory in New England, when he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 44 yards and a score.
Brees and Newton have been under centre for years in their respective teams, and both have been helped this season by improved defence and explosive rookie running backs.
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Gruden has not coached since 2008 and has been working as an National Football League television analyst for the last nine years. Gruden is returning for a second stint as coach of the Raiders after being traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season.
"We've had guys who have been there before, so I feel like we should be ready and more prepared", Peppers said. First-round draft choice cornerback Marshon Lattimore missed both Carolina games with injuries.
While Saints All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan has done well containing the 6-foot-5, 245-pound, fleet-footed Newton in previous meetings, he said he doesn't exactly enjoy the prospect of having to do so again.
"He was my hero".
It's a clash of two teams who made it to the Super Bowl - and one winning it - and neither have done much since. A large part of that was the improvement of the Saints running game with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.
Divided UN Security Council to meet on Iran protests
Security Council on Friday as a third straight day of pro-regime rallies were held following a wave of deadly protests . Trump's administration has denied having any hand in the demonstrations, saying they arose completely spontaneously.
"It just kind of let everybody know, 'Hey, we're not a bad team, we're not a bad defense. This weekend should be a much better showing".
Stewart sat out last week's 22-10 loss to Atlanta with back soreness. The early run-game success (see above) will get the Saints linebackers to bite on play-action fakes, creating some space for Olsen in the secondary.
Notes: LT Terron Armstead (thigh), DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion) all practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday after not playing in Tampa Bay last Sunday. He practiced on a limited basis this week and was listed as questionable.
Newton's words seem to hold added meaning given his struggles in recent weeks, and it's worth wondering if the Panthers can win if he doesn't play better.
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The government has invited those possessing valid driving licences to approach local bus depots to be used as substitute drivers. But soon after the meeting, transport minister M R Vijayabaskar ruled out any negotiations with the trade unions.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.