CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Luke Kuechly was carted off the field with a concussion, the tears streaming down his face as he left, it appeared the Carolina Panthers might be ready for another collapse.Their defensive leader was gone and another big fourth-quarter lead was crumbling.Instead, the Panthers did just enough to hold on and beat the New Orleans Saints 23-20 on Thursday night in a game marred by injuries to key players.When Kuechly went down the lead was at 10, and players gathered around him as he was put on a cart near midfield. Carolina would give up another score, but hold on for itsr third win in four games.We rally behind that guy, defensive end Charles Johnson said about Kuechly. Hes our leader. When you see a leader go down like that, we just rally behind him. Im keeping Luke in my prayers.The Panthers, who surrendered a 17-point lead and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, entered the fourth quarter with a 23-3 lead before injuries began to take their toll. Along with Kuechly, the Panthers lost two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil (shoulder), top pass rusher Mario Addison (foot) and cornerback Leonard Johnson (chest) to injuries. The Saints lost running back Mark Ingram to a head injury in the third quarter.It was the Grim Reaper walking around out there, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said.Saints quarterback Drew Brees seemed to seize the momentum.Brees, who had been held to 171 yards and no touchdowns in the first three quarters, rallied the Saints back to 23-20 with touchdown passes to Brandon Coleman and Coby Fleener.But an 18-yard reception by Kelvin Benjamin on a third-and-10 with 2:39 left in the game proved pivotal, taking enough time off the clock where Brees only had 14 seconds to work with on his final drive. He couldnt manage to get his team into field goal range.Newton finished 14 of 33 for 192 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. as the Panthers (4-6) pulled even with the Saints for third place in the NFC South.Our mantra is to Keep Pounding and it speaks volumes in situations like this, Newton said. I will take an ugly win over a pretty loss.Jonathan Stewart also ran for a touchdown and Graham Gano had three field goals.Carolinas next two games are on the West Coast -- at Oakland and Seattle.Hopefully, the time off will give us enough time to heal up for this long road trip, safety Kurt Coleman said. And also you wonder if it wasnt a Thursday game and it was a Sunday game, would there be these type of injuries? You never know. ... Im just going to pray for everybody. Not only our team but their team.BETTER DEFENSEBrees finished with 285 yards passing.That was a dramatic difference from the last time the two teams met on Oct. 16 when Brees threw for 465 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 win over the Panthers.They did exactly what we hoped and that was keep the ball it in front of them, Rivera said of his young secondary. You cant ask for the guys to do a better job.KICKING WOESSaints coach Sean Payton was upset after the game about the teams continuing struggles on special teams, including a blocked field goal that was returned 73 yards by Kuechly before the half to set up Ginns touchdown catch.Last week the Saints lost to Denver when a potential game-tying extra point was blocked and returned for a 2-point defensive conversion.Fundamentally weve got to be able to kick an extra point. ... Weve got to be able to, you know, kick a field goal thats a makeable one, Payton said. Weve just struggled in that area. It cost us at New York, it cost us last weekend (against) Denver and it cost us again tonight. And weve got to be smart enough in the game early to understand that the turnovers arent good.LOSE SOME, WIN SOMEMaybe Ginn is just too fast for officials.In the first quarter Ginn appeared to score on a 14-yard run, but officials reviewed the play and ruled his knee was down at the 1-yard line taking away a touchdown. Then, in the closing seconds of the second quarter, officials ruled Ginn was out of bounds on a pass from Cam Newton. But after instant replay officials overturned the ruling and gave Ginn a 40-yard touchdown catch.UNDER PRESSURENewton was under heavy pressure for most of the first half, taking a sack on third down that took his team out of field goal range -- the second time he has done that in as many weeks.A COOL BREESBrees eclipsed 3,000 yards passing for the 13th consecutive season, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL J.J. Watt Jersey . Thousands of fans at Mosaic Stadium will be cozying up to each other in an effort to stay warm in chilly temperatures and block the Prairie wind that locals say can knock your socks off. Cullen Gillaspia Womens Jersey .S. -- Nikolaj Ehlers registered a hat trick for the third straight game and Jonathan Drouin had a goal and five assists as the Halifax Mooseheads hammered the host Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 10-1 on Tuesday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. http://www.texansrookiestore.com/Texans-Justin-Reid-Jersey/ .com) - The Montreal Canadiens embark on their first road trip of the season as they head out west to battle the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. Lonnie Johnson Womens Jersey . Brandon Morrow allowed five runs on six hits over three innings. He struck out two, walked one and hit a batter. Edwin Encarnacion had a two-out, bases loaded two-RBI double in the third inning. Arian Foster Texans Jersey . Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams night. When Alabamas offense takes the field against USC on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas, everyone knows what to expect. After 10 years of this, who dots the I in the I-formation is almost beside the point. What matters is that Nick Sabans team is expected to continue to produce one of the best running games in college football, to yield yet another star running back.Think about it: when the Doak Walker Watch List was released in July, both Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris were on it. Combined starts: zero. And whats more bizarre is that Scarbrough, a redshirt sophomore with fewer than 20 career carries, is considered by some to be a Heisman Trophy contender. According to a release from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook this spring, Scarbrough is listed at 25-to-1 odds to win the trophy, ahead of the likes of Oregons Royce Freeman and Oklahomas Samaje Perine.Its a product of the system, people say. Saban and the recruiting juggernaut he has built ultimately get the bulk of the credit.But those discussions are flawed. Most analysis of Alabamas success at running back involve a name that usually goes unsaid, a common denominator that is too often overlooked.?Hes a former Nebraska fullback and lifelong assistant coach. Hes hard-nosed on the field and deeply caring off it. Hes set to turn 64 in October, a native of New Orleans and the son of a Marine who fought in World War II and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Hes the only assistant remaining from Sabans first staff at Alabama in 2007 and the teacher to the schools only two Heisman Trophy winners.When Mark Ingram won the award, he thanked him by name. So did Derrick Henry.Coach Burns, Henry said in front of the Heisman Trust in New York last December, I could go on and on, but these past few years have been a blessing, just to be coached by you. And just as much as youre proud as me, every day I wake up and Im so proud to call you my coach.Keep in mind that Henry is a man of few words. But on that day, in maybe the biggest moment of his life, he went on for nearly a minute recognizing Burton Burns, who was seated in the crowd next to Saban. In writing the history of this Alabama dynasty, those two are forever intertwined.If one is truly the best coach of his generation, then the other is certainly in the conversation for the best position coach of his.* * *As a kid, they called him Big Stony after the former Baltimore Colts and New Orleans Saints linebacker Steve Stonebreaker.Burns, then a promising young athlete at St. Augustine High in New Orleans in the late 1960s, was a stocky, bruising fullback/linebacker with several scholarship offers from Division-I programs.Ronnie Burns remembers those days well, back when his brother was wooed personally by the governor to go to LSU, whom he said was looking for more African-American players to play for the state college. (As per Alabamas media policy, Burton Burns was unavailable to speak for this story.)But, according to Ronnie, his brother wanted to play with the best and spurned the hometown Tigers, opting instead to go to what was then a powerhouse program in Nebraska.You see, Burns had what his brother describes as an inner fight or an inner competitiveness. From the sandlot to high school to college, he was always the one people gravitated to -- a leader, Ronnie said. That came from their father, Winston Burns Sr., a prominent local high school football coach who served in a segregated Marine Corps during WWII.You always go back to the first Coach Burns, my dad, Ronnie said. He coached at an inner-city school in a tough situation. His teams won championships every year and, to this day, guys come back to see him. My brother saw that, he learned from that.In their household, Ronnie said, There was no bending the rules.At Nebraska, Burns got more of the same stern upbringing from coach Tom Osborne. Burns would injure his knee and never become a star, but he picked up his signature hard-nosed coaching style along the way in Lincoln.After four years coaching in New Orleans high schools, Burns broke into the college ranks as an assistant at Southern University. A decade later, he was hired on the staff at Tulane where hed mentor Jerald Sowell, the first of his backs who would go on to play in the NFL. Sowell played for nearly a decade with the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.The same year Sowell went pro, Tulane hired a new coach, Tommy Bowden.Tommy said that his father, Florida State legend Bobby Bowden, told him, Theres one guy you better hire. It was Burns, who had made an impression on Bobby during his recruiting trips to New Orleans.Hes a hard-nosed guy and a great personality, Tommy said. He has a great relationship with players. He works their tails off. Again, hes one of those guys that yells at them, gets after them and then hugs them after practice. Guys appreciate that. They can feel the hard coaching is constructive criticism. Some coaches have the ability to convey that, some dont. As I watched him, he was very demanding, which is what you want at a place like Tulane because there isnt much margin for error.He added: When he walks on the field he cuts his motor on 10. It runs on 10 for the whole two-and-a-half to three hours.That first season at Tulane, Burns coached a running back who would break school records for rushing yards by a freshman. The next season theyd go undefeated and Tommy would take Burns with him to his new job at Clemson.Eight years later, Alabama came calling. Tommy said he couldnt match the money. Ronnie said his brother was guided by the same principal that took him from New Orleans to Nebraska: He wanted to play for the best.Under Saban, Burns would not only be teamed with the best coach in college football, hed help recruit him some of the best players in the country, including many in his own backyard. In what has become a yearly headache for LSU coach Les Miles, Burns has maintained a steady grip on the state of Louisiana, hauling in blue-chip prospects such as Landon Collins and Tim Williams.When Leonard Fournette had to choose where hed play his college ball, it came down to LSU and Alabama.Still to this day I love Coach Burns, said Fournette, who chose to stay close to home at LSU. At the end of the day it was one of the hardest choices I had to make. ? The love I have for Coach Burns will nnever stop, no matter what.dddddddddddd* * *J.W.M.F.If youve played for Burns, then you know what those four letters means. You will have read it on white board or in a text message. While you were in school, youd see it pop up on your phone the Friday night before a big game. And when you moved on to the pros, the messages wouldnt stop, theyd just come a day later.Its kind of explicit the first meaning, Ingram explained. But for commercial purposes and interview purposes, its Just Win Monday through Friday. And on Saturday we go kick ass and handle our business.The less-family-friendly version starts the same way and, well, you can probably guess what the last two letters stand for.Speaking with a handful of former players, they all agreed that there are two sides to Burns. Theres the father figure who wants to get to know you personally, and theres the coach who is demanding and isnt afraid to call you out in public.Ingram remembers rushing for 246 yards against South Carolina in 2009 and Burns coaching him hard the very next day. He, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy would get annoyed by Burns attention to detail, how hed harp on sticking a foot in the ground and getting north and south. Burns would tell them how when he was a kid hed practice by sprinting down the sidewalk in his neighborhood before making a hard cut up the driveway and into his house. Man this dude is trippin, Ingram recalls telling his teammates.But finally when the season hit and we were running that outside zone and youd get your read and put your foot in the ground, you were breaking arm tackles and breaking off big runs, Ingram said. So all that teaching, all that emphasis, all those drills, all the film study on guys running the zone the right way paid off for us because he stayed on us about getting our foot in the ground, making a violent cut and getting north and south. Thats just one thing of many that he taught us.Before Lacy could unleash his patented spin move on the world, he first had to show Burns it was fundamentally sound. It wasnt something Alabama was used to doing -- it wasnt in their repertoire, Lacy said -- but when proved in the film room that he was controlling the football and his pad level was correct, he was given the green light.Nothing was easy, Lacy said. During one practice his sophomore year, Lacy drew the ire of his coach after was caught running down the sideline a little too nonchalantly and a smaller DB knocked him hard out of bounds. The next day, Burns cued up the hit in the film room and played it over and over in front of everyone.He figured out I practiced better when he made me mad, Lacy said. So he would try to find different ways to make me mad. It was crazy because it worked, but it was weird because he was doing it on purpose. But it was tough love. He did what he had to do to get the best out of his players.Said Ingram: You cant be thin-skinned, you cant be soft when youre taking his coaching. Hes going to push you to the limit. ? He sees stuff in you that cant even see.But just as Tommy Bowden pointed out, as soon as Burns was done teaching, he was there throwing an arm over his players shoulders. If you were hungry, there was an open invitation to stop by the house for dinner. If you couldnt make it home for Thanksgiving, youd come over for Miss Connies gumbo and dressing. After eating, everyone would head up to Burns man cave to watch football or a movie.To this day, C.J. Spiller thinks of the Burns like family. Connie, he said, was like a mother to him.After starring at Clemson as a freshman, Spiller would go on to become a first-round pick while Burns left to begin his career at Alabama. Still the two maintained a close relationship. Last year after he was signed by the New Orleans Saints, Burns had Spiller over to his parents home in New Orleans for a bite to eat. Thirty minutes earlier, Lacy had arrived. Burns, as it turns out, saw a post Lacy made on social media saying he was at the lakefront and decided to invite him over, too.That just speaks volumes about the kind of character he has, Spiller said. Even though he was only my coach for one season it felt like he coached me all four years because of what he taught me and the kind of person he was. He cared. He cared about the individual.When Clemson and Alabama met in the national championship, Spiller ran into Burns again. He and Ingram were honorary captains, and during the pregame warmups, Spiller found Burns and gave him a big hug. Afterward, he and the Burns family took photos on the field.He ended up hitting the double dip on me -- he won the game and his guy did well, Spiller said. At the same time I was happy to see him win another national championship. And to have coached two Heisman trophy winners, I dont think he gets the credit he deserves.* * *Why then has Burns never been a coordinator or head coach?Theres no getting around the question, and due to Alabamas media policies, Burns could not be made available to give an answer himself.But in speaking with those around him, theres a sense that moving up the ladder was never part of the equation. According to Ronnie, his brother actually turned down Saban the first time he called while at LSU.There were other opportunities, Ronnie explained.To be a head coach?At smaller universities, yes, Ronnie said.Now that Burns is approaching 64 years old, the time may have passed to move on.But to this day, Tommy Bowden believes that Burns would be a great fit at Tulane. He said he twice recommended him for the job.While acknowledging that race can sometimes be a factor, Bowden didnt think that was the case for Burns and Tulane, pointing out that the previous coach was African-American, as well.Regardless, Bowden said, I think his goal has always been to be the best running backs coach in America.And has he done that? Has he become the best position coach in the country?Oh, yeah, Bowden said. If you can find one with better results ?Bowden didnt finish his sentence. He didnt need to.You can look all you want, for as long as you want, but no one has done it better than Burns. When you think of Alabamas long line of star running backs, its him that you really need to be thinking of. ' ' '