CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thanks to another dominant performance from the Saints defense, New Orleans was able to overcome the loss of running back Jamaal Williams and finish off the Panthers 20-17 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Monday night.
Up 6-3 in the second quarter Williams limped off the field before making his way back to the locker room, not to return.
At the half, WWL Radio reported the 28-year-old, seven-year veteran had sustained a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable for the remainder of the game.
Williams entered the game as the Saints' featured back with Alvin Kamara serving a three-game suspension and rookie Kendre Miller out nursing a hamstring injury, leaving Tony Jones Jr., for New Orleans.
Before his departure, Williams had nine carries for 29 yards.
Jones scored on two 2-yard runs to help put the Saints up 13-6 with 2:56 in the third and 20-9 with 3:14 in the fourth. Jones finished with 34 on 12 carries with a 2.8 average, just behind Taysom Hill with 75 yards nine carries for a 8.3-yard average.
Shortly before Williams' injury, Panthers inside linebacker Shaq Thompson was carted off the field after sustaining a game-ending ankle injury.
Saints quarterback Derek Carr went 21-of-36 for 228 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. Carr was sacked four times for the second-straight game this season.
New Orleans held Carolina (0-2) to just 239 yards of total offense and sacked rookie Bryce Young four times and recovered a fumble.
With the win, the Saints start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2013. That team finished the regular season 11-5 before losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round.
"It's awesome how we were able to do that two weeks in a row," said Saints head coach Dennis Allen after the game regarding the team taking two hard-fought wins to start the season. "I don't think we should have let it get to that point ...there's some ebb and flow to the game, when the defense needs to be picked up the offense is there and certainly the defense has done their part."