CHARLOTTE — Second-year Carolina quarterback Cam Newton quieted any talk of a sophomore slump in the Panthers’ 35-27 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Newton and his receivers picked apart the New Orleans defense, connecting on 14 receptions for 253 yards and a touchdown on a 17-yard pass to Jonathan Stewart to give the Panthers a 14-13 lead in the second quarter. Carolina was even more effective with the run game, amassing 219 yards on 41 attempts, including 71 yards and a touchdown by Newton to lead the team, a career high.
The Saints took nearly 10 minutes off of the clock on their first drive, which culminated in a 1-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham.
The Panthers were forced to punt on their next drive, giving the Saints first down at their own 7-yard line. Brees was picked off by Panthers safety Charles Godfrey on the Saints’ second play of the drive. Godfrey returned the interception, unimpeded, 9 yards the Panthers’ first touchdown.
The Carolina defense made a stand on their 4-yard line on the ensuing New Orleans drive, forcing a 22-yard field goal by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley. Hartley again connected on a 53-yard attempt to give the Saints a 13-7 lead with 7:13 left in the first half.
After Newton’s touchdown pass to Stewart the Panthers took a 21-13 lead on a 2-yard run by fullback Mike Tolbert with 14 seconds left in the first half.
DeAngelo Williams put the Panthers ahead 28-13 with a 3-yard run with 8:21 left in the third quarter.
New Orleans running back Mark Ingram brought the Saints within eight points of the Panthers with a 1-yard run three minutes into the fourth quarter. The Panthers responded with a six-play drive that finished with a 5-yard touchdown run by Newton.
Brees scored on a 1-yard run at the two-minute warning for the final score. The Panthers turned the ball over, but Jon Beason intercepted a New Orleans pass as time expired.