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Saints fall to Panthers in regular season finale

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints – with the top seed and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs secured – were defeated 33-14 by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Quarterback Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara, receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and three key offensive linemen were inactive for the game and the Saints pulled most of their starters at the start of the second half.

The Saints ended the regular season at 13-3, the same record they had in 2009 when they went on to win the Super Bowl. New Orleans has a first-round bye and won’t know its divisional opponent until the two NFC wild-card games are played next weekend.

Andrus Peat, the team’s starting left guard who opened at left tackle in place of Terron Arnstead on Sunday, left the game with a hand injury. Defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins and Alex Okafor both briefly left the field in the first half but returned to play.

Taysom Hill added a 9-yard scoring run with 3:47 to play for the final score.