Newton, Panthers stun Saints, 17-13 - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Newton, Panthers stun Saints, 17-13

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Cam Newton led a five-play, 65-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute, and the Carolina Panthers handed the Saints a heartbreaking 17-13 loss. The Panthers take over first place in the NFC South division with one regular season game to play.

New Orleans (10-5) has now lost three of its past four games and will wrap up the regular season next Sunday at home against Tampa Bay (4-11). The Saints are 3-5 on the road this year. Carolina (11-4) travels to face Atlanta.

With just 23 seconds remaining, Newton found Domenik Hixon on a 14-yard touchdown connection to put the Panthers on top for good. Newton finished the game 13-of-22 passing for 181 yards and the touchdown. He also ran it four times for six yards.

It was a stunning finish for the Who Dat Nation. It seemed the Saints had produced a game-winning drive of their own, but their dramatic touchdown and lead would not hold.

Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham led an 11-play, 97-yard fourth quarter scoring drive to give the Saints a 13-10 lead over the Panthers with 6:43 to play.

Prior to their go-ahead scoring drive, Brees had thrown two interceptions. He was also sacked a season-high six times today. However, Brees lofted a 5-yard scoring strike to Graham, who hauled in his 15th TD of the year to put the Black-and-Gold on top for what looked like the final score. To ignite the drive, Graham turned a short reception into a 46-yard gain that changed the momentum.

Brees finished the game 30-of-44 for 281 yards passing with the touchdown and two picks.

Early on, things did not look good for New Orleans either. Carolina running back Deangelo Williams ripped off a 43-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, and the Panthers led 7-6 at the half. The score came after Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis intercepted a Brees pass.

The Williams touchdown was a rare mistake for the Saints defense, which forced a turnover on the game's opening possession as Malcolm Jenkins made a diving interception of a tipped Cam Newton pass. The Saints also forced the Panthers to punt on their ensuing four drives. Carolina tallied just 55 yards on its first five possessions. The Panthers were 0-4 on third downs at that point. The Saints tallied four more sacks today.

In his first action with the Saints, Shayne Graham kicked a pair of field goals. Graham connected from both 40 yards and 24 yards out. A successful New Orleans onside kick and a season-long 34-yard run from running back Mark Ingram led to the second field goal. Ingram tallied 83 yards on 13 carries.

Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro was carted off the field in the first quarter after injuring his left ankle. Vaccaro may be done for the season.

New Orleans punted on both of its first two drives. Drew Brees was 9-of-11 for 54 yards in the first quarter but finished the half 17-of-24 for 124 yards and the interception.

Graham Gano's 40-yard field goal extended the Carolina lead to 10-6 in the third quarter. At that point, heavy rains passed through Charlotte making the rest of the game a rainy roller coaster of production and emotion.

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