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Panthers' timeout before halftime a costly head-scratcher

If Al Michaels had been calling Sunday's Saints-Panthers game, you would have heard him in disbelief just before halftime.

The Panthers did what?!?

They did this for some inexplicable reason: As the Saints -- with no timeouts, mind you -- hurried their field-goal unit on the field for a last-second attempt, the Panthers called a timeout. Can you believe that? The Panthers called a timeout.

Instead of having the clock run out or, at the very least, New Orleans kicker John Kasay flustered for the field-goal attempt, Carolina gave him time to compose himself before nailing a 46-yarder as time expired.

Not only was this decision dumbfounding, it ended up being the difference in the game. The Saintswon by a field goal, 30-27.

The Panthers might have called the timeout because they, too, were in a rush to set up their field-goal blocking unit and feared being flagged for having too many men on the field. But that begs this question: Why wouldn't you just leave your defense out there to give the clock a chance to expire?

OK, Ron Rivera. It's your move. Explain this, please.

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