Going into the match-up against Cam Newton and the Panthers’ passing game, the Saints knew the big challenge ahead of them.
“We were a little banged up,” says safety Rafael Bush. “We had some guys out in the secondary, but the guys that were in made plays, and it was good to have this convincing win against a great team.”
Without rookie corner Marshon Lattimore, the responsibility of taking away Carolina’s top receiver, Devin Funchess, fell on Ken Crawley, and you couldn’t ask for much more from the second-year defensive back.
“I just think he accepted the challenge,” says Bush. “We know that’s their go-to guy. With (Greg) Olsen being out, him and McCaffrey were the go-to guys. We had to neutralize those guys, and he did a hell of a job.”
“Him coming back healthy, he can run,” says Sean Payton. “He made a big play over his head. Early in the 2nd half, I think they tried to go on top with the post. He’s doing well.”
Crawley’s three tackles and two pass deflections may not sound like much, but they came on some big downs in crucial moments. That’s easier said than done against Newton’s top target.
“I think he played him well,” says defensive end Cam Jordan. “Even on that late touchdown, I think he was in great position.”
Crawley is a perfect example of the depth the Saints are relying on in their secondary. Sometimes, you're only as good as the next man up.
“That’s what determines a good team, when guys can come in and you don’t really miss a beat,” says Bush. “We were playing one of the top tier teams in the NFC today, and you couldn’t tell we were missing one of our better corners. So that’s always a great sign.”
In just a few days, however, the challenge gets significantly tougher against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and a plethora of Falcons offensive weapons. Bush says the preparation going into a short week is more mental than physical, but it certainly helps to go into the Thursday night game after a big win.
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