The Latest: Pope gives Saints unexpected boost on Twitter

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The Latest on the NFL’s Week 6 (all times EDT):

Noon

The New Orleans Saints got an unexpected – and probably unintentional – backer for their game at Jacksonville.

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, included the Saints’ Twitter logo in a tweet Sunday morning – one New Orleans football fans took as a good omen for their team.

”Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new (hash)Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession,” the Pope tweeted after canonizing five new saints at a mass at Vatican City.

The hashtag and capitalization of Saints added the Fleur de Lis, the emblem associated with the Saints and worn on the team’s helmets.

People certainly noticed as one person wrote, ”Who Dat, father?” At least one Saints player took the tweet as a good sign: ”Wow, are we blessed or what?!??”

– Mark Long reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

11:15 a.m.

Carolina’s Joey Slye missed a 60-yard attempt on a rare free kick for a field goal at the end of the first half against Tampa Bay.

Slye got his opportunity after the Panthers called for a fair catch at midfield with 1 second left in the half. Tampa Bay had false-started three straight times before the punt.

The Panthers chose the option of a free kick. That allowed Slye to kick from the 50 with the Bucs players forced to remain 10 yards back. The kick went wide right and Carolina’s lead remained 17-7 at the break.

The Panthers used a franchise-record tying six first-half sacks, three takeaways and two Christian McCaffrey touchdowns to take a 17-7 halftime lead in London against the Bucs.

– Josh Dubow reporting from London

10:20 a.m.

The Carolina Panthers have taken a 10-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thanks to a short drive and a long one.

Carolina’s James Bradberry intercepted Jameis Winston on the first play from scrimmage. The Panthers lost 2 yards before settling for a 49-yard field goal from Joey Slye.

Carolina then drove 99 yards for a touchdown after Bradley Pinion’s punt was down at the 1. Kyle Allen went 5-for-5 for 68 yards on the drive and Christian McCaffrey capped it with a 1-yard run on fourth down.

That was just the second 99-yard drive for Carolina in the past 12 seasons. The Panthers had one last year against Baltimore.

The Buccaneers hadn’t allowed a 99-yard drive since Nov. 7, 2010, against Atlanta.

– Josh Dubow reporting from London

9:30 a.m.

The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers got the NFL off to an early start with their meeting in London.

The two NFC South rivals are playing Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the second of four games this season in London.

Carolina made defensive Efe Obada an honorary captain for the game. The Nigeria native arrived in England as a 10-year-old after being trafficked with his sister from the Netherlands. Now he’s back here as an NFL player and a star attraction after first picking up the sport of American football at age 22.

This marks the Panthers’ first regular-season game outside the United States. That leaves the Green Bay Packers as the only team not to have played an International Series game.

Some of the key games in Week 6 after the early start in London include Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans visiting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs and an NFC West showdown between the undefeated San Francisco 49ers and the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.

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