By Mike Triplett | ESPN Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints had better hope that Week 17 was truly meaningless.
Because they somehow played worse than expected on Sunday -- especially on defense -- in a 33-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers that technically didn't matter with the NFC's No. 1 seed already locked up.
Although the Saints (13-3) kept some starters such as Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara inactive, they started their normal defense for the entire first half while falling behind 23-0 to undrafted rookie quarterback Kyle Allen.
It was the first time the Saints had been shut out in the first half of a home game since 2001. And coach Sean Payton didn't let them off the hook afterward. ...
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