Saints' D'Marco Jackson scores TD off blocked Panthers punt

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers weren't having an easy time moving the ball with their starting offensive units in the first half of their game at the Caesars Superdome.

So the Saints' special-teamers took it upon themselves to get some momentum going.

Saints linebacker Nephi Sewell rushed free to get a hand on Johnny Hekker's punt attempt with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Linebacker D'Marco Jackson came in for the scoop-and-score, running into the end zone for the first touchdown of his career.

The touchdown put the Saints up 14-3. It was the first time New Orleans returned a blocked punt for a touchdown since former Saints special-teamer Justin Hardee did it in Week 9 of the 2017 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It was also the first time the Panthers gave up a blocked punt return for a touchdown since Week 12 of 2021 against the Miami Dolphins.

During the third quarter, it was announced that because Sewell got to Hekker before he let go of the ball to punt it, the official scoring is a fumble returned for a touchdown.