The final score was so lopsided, it was hard to forget that there was a tenuous moment or two for the New Orleans Saints in their 33-7 victory over Carolina on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
But early, the Saints (12-4) not only weren’t dominating the Panthers, they also were on the verge of falling behind by at least a field goal, and maybe by a touchdown.
And then, safety Malcolm Jenkins stepped in.
With the score tied at 7 and the Panthers in possession after forcing a three-and-out, Carolina drove from its 46-yard line to the Saints’ 18 on nine plays, including a 4-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 45-yard line.
At first-and-10 from there, the Saints were on their heels and likely would have been content to hold Carolina to a field goal. But they got a much, much better result than that.
Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took a shotgun snap and looked to cash in big with receiver DJ Moore. But Bridgewater’s deep pass into the end zone instead found Jenkins, who almost looked like the intended receiver on the play.
Jenkins safely intercepted the pass – the first of five thrown by Carolina – and promptly returned it 48 yards up the left sideline, to the Saints’ 46. His theft of a touchdown led to the Saints scoring one on a five-play, 54-yard drive, a monumental 13-point swing (New Orleans missed the point-after attempt) that opened the gates for the Saints.