NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - From the opening drive of the game, the Saints' prized free agent acquisition, tight end Coby Fleener, was a key to victory. In a game that took 41 points to win, making the call to run a sweep for a touchdown with Fleener on fourth down at the goal line set the tone for a big day.
"That's something we worked on during the week," says Fleener. "Initially when you hear the call, it seems a little outlandish. But obviously, coach knows what he's doing, and it worked really well."
"Usually, when you do unexpected things, then it's unexpected for the defense," says Saints quarterback Drew Brees. "That one worked just the way we planned."
However, Fleener's second trip to the end zone wasn't quite as smooth. On paper, it reads as a 50-yard touchdown pass from Brees. In reality, it was chaos turned blessing in disguise. Fleener ran his route correctly down the middle of the field, but there was miscommunication elsewhere, which led to wide receiver Willie Snead in the same area with his defender right behind him.
"All of a sudden, I feel this congregation of bodies and wonder why are all of these bodies making their way to the middle of the field," says Brees. "But it kind of created this natural pick. All of a sudden, all of these bodies are in this melee, and then here's Coby coming down with it and taking it the distance."
Fleener wasn't the only Saints tight end front and center, though. Josh Hill, returning from an ankle injury, made the catch of the day in the fourth quarter to put the Saints ahead of the Panthers 38-30. Like Fleener's pair of scores, it was a touchdown that the Saints had to have against a Carolina team that refused to back down late in the game.