Final

Panthers 20

(3-5, 2-3 away)

Saints 30

(8-0, 5-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:05 PM ET, November 8, 2009

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 14 3 3 020
NO 0 6 14 1030

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 330 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Williams (CAR) - 21 CAR, 149 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Meachem (NO) - 5 REC, 98 YDS, 1 TD

Brees overcomes early turnovers to help Saints stay perfect

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees and the Saints' prolific offense never had to play from behind in their first five games.

Mastering the comeback in their last three has gotten New Orleans off to its best start in the franchise's 43-year history.

Yasinskas: Playing With Pain

Anthony Hargrove was extremely somber on what should have been one of the happiest days of his life, writes Pat Yasinskas. Blog

• NFC South Blog

New Orleans moved to 8-0 on Sunday when Brees overcame two early turnovers to pass for 330 yards and a touchdown in a 30-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

"That's great. I mean, 1967 until now and we're the only [Saints] team to have done that," Brees said. "That's really special. I feel like we've got a special group of guys, a special team, and certainly we're not satisfied with just being 8-0. We have what it takes to just continue to win."

Starting with a favorable schedule during the next two weeks. The Saints play at St. Louis and Tampa Bay, who are a combined 2-14 this season, meaning New Orleans has a realistic chance to be 10-0 when New England -- the only team to finish a regular season 16-0 -- comes to the Louisiana Superdome the Monday night after Thanksgiving.

Before this season, the only 7-0 team New Orleans ever had was in 1991, a squad coached by Jim Mora and known for its defense.

Fast Facts

• New Orleans overcame a 17-3 deficit to improve to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history, snapping a seven-game home losing streak against Carolina.

• New Orleans failed to score a touchdown in the first half for the first time this season. It was also the first game this year the Saints did not intercept a pass.

• Drew Brees threw for 330 yards, his 28th 300-yard game since 2006, which is the most in the NFL.

• DeAngelo Williams rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns. It was his sixth game with more than 140 yards and at least two touchdowns, the most in the NFL.

• The Saints scored more than 30 points and gave up more than 20 points for the fourth straight game.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

The defense on the 2009 Saints gives up its share of yards, but has continued to make big plays at the right time.

While the Saints did not intercept a pass for the first time all season, their defense forced three turnovers on fumbles. The last produced New Orleans' seventh defensive touchdown of the season on Anthony Hargrove's strip, recovery and 1-yard return late in the fourth quarter.

Hargrove might have been down before advancing the ball, but the play started before the two-minute warning and Carolina had no timeouts, preventing a challenge.

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 149 yards and two TDs, and Carolina gained 182 yards on the ground. But it was Williams' fumble at his 1 that led to the clinching TD.

It was Carolina's (3-5) first lost in Louisiana since 2001 and quarterback Jake Delhomme's first loss in the Louisiana Superdome. The Panthers blew a 17-3 lead as the Saints improved to 5-0 at home this season.

"I'm encouraged with the fact that we've been able to win a few of these games and we haven't played our best football," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I don't know we're paying a lot of attention to where this [record] at the halfway point compares to past teams. There hadn't been a real rich history here in regards to successful football."

The Saints have never been to a Super Bowl and have only been to the playoffs six times. The way they're closing out games now, there's no telling how far they could go. New Orleans is outscoring opponents 91-18 in the fourth quarter.

"The more that you win games like this, the more confidence that you gain, the more that you feel like no matter what situation that you're in, you're going to be able to win the game," Brees said. "No matter what the deficit, no matter how bad things might have gone, you just feel like you're going to come back and you're going to do it."

After failing to score a touchdown in the first half for the first time all season, the Saints needed four plays to produce Pierre Thomas' 10-yard TD run to cut Carolina's lead to 17-13 to open the third quarter. Devery Henderson's 63-yard gain on a short slant highlighted the drive.

Carolina responded with a 19-play drive but had to settle for John Kasay's 25-yard field goal. Delhomme's third-down pass bounced off Williams' shoulder pads at the goal line.

"It was very disappointing. We came very close to getting the touchdown with that pass to DeAngelo," Delhomme said. "That would have been huge, making it 24-13."

Instead, New Orleans tied it at 20 on Robert Meachem's leaping catch and run for a 54-yard score.

On their next possession, the Saints started at their 2 and drove 76 yards in 13 plays to go ahead 23-20 on John Carney's 40-yard field goal with 4:36 left.

Will Smith, who had two sacks, stripped Delhomme on fourth down, and Hargrove recovered to end Carolina's next series. Four plays later, Saints rookie Malcolm Jenkins dove to stop Thomas Morstead's punt from going into the end zone, setting up Hargrove's second fumble recovery in less than a minute.

Before that stretch, Hargove, suspended all of 2008 for NFL substance abuse violations, hadn't had a fumble recovery since 2005.

Carolina led 14-0 on Williams' TD runs of 66 and 7 yards, both of which came before the Saints made a first down.

The second TD came after Brees was sacked and stripped by Tyler Brayton, and Jon Beason recovered on the Saints 11. The Panthers went up 17-3 on Kasay's 32-yard field goal, set up by Chris Gamble's interception.

Game notes


The Saints failed to score in the first quarter for the first time all season. ... Saints S Roman Harper had a career-high 12 tackles. ... Carolina LB Thomas Davis left the game with a right knee injury. ... Saints CB Jabari Greer went out with a groin pull that Payton said did not appear serious.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CAR
NO
1st Downs2118
Passing 1st downs
1111
Rushing 1st downs
96
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
8-166-12
4th down efficiency
0-20-0
Total Plays7159
Total Yards371414
Yards per play5.27.0
Total Drives1112
Passing189330
Comp-Att
17-3024-35
Yards per pass
5.99.2
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-121-0
Rushing18284
Rushing Attempts
3923
Yards per rush
4.73.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-41-5
Penalties6-377-55
Turnovers32
Fumbles lost
31
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession32:2627:34

Passing Leaders

CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Delhomme17/302016.7002-12
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees24/353309.4111-0

Rushing Leaders

CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams211497.1266
Stewart13241.8010
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas13503.8112
Bell5173.405

Receiving Leaders

CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith46416.0046
Barnidge34615.3019
NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Meachem59819.6154
Henderson39331.0063

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCARNO
carTD14:11Deangelo Williams 66 Yard Run (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 75 yds, 1:00
70
carTD6:58Deangelo Williams 7 Yard Run (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 11 yds, 0:46
140
SECOND QUARTERCARNO
noFG13:44John Carney 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 15 plays, 74 yds, 8:12
143
carFG5:34John Kasay 32 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 41 yds, 5:26
173
noFG0:08John Carney 25 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 76 yds, 1:39
176
THIRD QUARTERCARNO
noTD13:20Pierre Thomas 10 Yard Run (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yds, 1:46
1713
carFG3:30John Kasay 25 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 19 plays, 73 yds, 9:47
2013
noTD0:02Robert Meachem 54 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 73 yds, 3:27
2020
FOURTH QUARTERCARNO
noFG4:41John Carney 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 76 yds, 6:43
2023
noTD2:17Anthony Hargrove 1 Yard Fumble Return (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
2030