Saints lead Panthers 24-6 after 3 quarters
Drew Brees passed for 252 yards and three touchdowns and the New
Orleans Saints led the Carolina Panthers 24-6 through three
quarters Sunday night.
The Panthers’ defense had not allowed more than two touchdowns
in a game through the first 12 games of the season. The Saints
scored three TDs in the second quarter, when Brees completed 14 of
16 passes for 159 yards. The Saints also became only the second
team this season – Buffalo being the other – to score 24 points
against Carolina, which entered the game No. 1 in scoring defense,
allowing 13.1 points per game.
The Saints appeared to have reached 28 points on what would have
been Marques Colston’s third touchdown catch, but video review
showed his knee touching down just before he reached the ball
across the goal line.
The ruling gave New Orleans first-and-goal, but a run and two
passing plays failed to get that last yard, setting up Garrett
Hartley’s short field goal.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was 12 of 22 passing for 89
yards, while DeAngelo Williams, returning from a quad contusion
that sidelined him last week, rushed 12 times for 49 yards as the
Panthers struggled to move the ball after the first quarter, when
Graham Gano hit two field goals. Gano had a third chance from 49
yards in the third quarter, but kicked it wide right.
New Orleans started slow and trailed 6-0, but seemed ignited by
Darren Sproles’ 38-yard run late in the first quarter. That set up
Colston’s first of two touchdowns on a 6-yard catch early in the
On their next possession, the Saints drove 86 yards in 11 plays,
highlighted by veteran tight end Ben Watson’s 20-yard catch and
capped by Colston’s second TD on a 15-yard pass over the middle
New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan surpassed the 10-sack
plateau with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the second
quarter, and in the process forced the Panthers to punt deep in
their own territory.
A holding penalty wiped out Sproles’ return to midfield and
forced New Orleans to start on its own 24 with 2:01 left. But
Brees, who completed 17 of 21 passes, immediately found Lance Moore
for 21 yards, then followed with completions of 19 yards to Colston
and 20 yards to Sproles, setting up Jimmy Graham’s 5-yard TD catch
shortly before halftime.
Brees passed for 159 yards in the second quarter alone.
Gano kicked field goals of 45 and 24 yards as the Panthers took
a 6-0 lead through one quarter, which ended with the Saints
threatening to score their first points.
The Panthers had the ball for 11:30 of the first quarter,
showing an early ability to run their offense in the face of an
energized and loud Superdome crowd, revved up for a game that will
decide sole possession of first place in the NFC South with three
Carolina drove 53 yards for their first score and 26 for the
second after Ted Ginn Jr. returned a punt 32 yards. A 15-yard
penalty was added to the return because of a horse-collar tackle by
punter Thomas Morstead along the left sideline.
New Orleans’ defense came through with clutch third down stops
to keep Carolina out of the end zone, however.
Junior Galette had a sack – his first of two in the game – to
stall the Panthers’ opening drive, and Newton was forced to throw
the ball away on third-and-goal from the 6 late in the first
The Saints’ defense tightened up in the second quarter, and
Carolina finished the half with only 110 net yards.