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Blocked kick comes back to hurt Saints again

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The New Orleans Saints' kicking woes resurfaced again late in the first half of Thursday Night Football.

After Carolina Panthers rookie Vernon Butler blocked a Wil Lutz field-goal attempt, star linebacker Luke Kuechly scooped the ball off the turf and scampered 87 yards for an apparent touchdown.

Those points came off the board, however, when a brain cramp from cornerback James Bradberry resulted in a penalty near the 30-yard line. Trailing Kuechly by five yards, Bradberry threw an extraneous block to the back of Lutz, who sold the infraction like a European soccer star.

Bradberry was spared ignominy one play later, when Ted Ginn came through with a play so spectacular that the officials missed the call on the field. Ginn beat linebacker Craig Robertson for a 40-yard score, corraling a beautiful Cam Newton strike while sliding out of the back of the end zone. Ginn was ultimately awarded the touchdown on replay review.

One week after a deflected Lutz extra point cost the Saints a victory versus the Broncos, his blocked field-goal attempt turned a potential 13-6 game into a 20-3 halftime lead for the Panthers. Special teams have been a nightmare for New Orleans over the past five days.

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