Panthers build big lead, hold off Saints

Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:26am EST
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(The Sports Xchange) - The Panthers scored on a few short drives after first-half mistakes by the New Orleans Saints, and Carolina held on for a 23-20 victory Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.

The Saints, who trailed by 20 points midway through the third quarter, pulled within 23-20 with 2:52 left on tight end Coby Fleener's 8-yard touchdown catch from Drew Brees, but didn't take another snap until the 14-second mark.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for one touchdown, completing 14 of 33 passes for 192 yards without an interception.

Brees threw two touchdown passes and connected on 35 of 45 throws for 285 yards and one interception.

The Panthers (4-6) played the final minutes without star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was evaluated for a concussion.

Carolina opened the third quarter by going 51 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a Graham Gano 42-yard field goal for a 23-3 advantage.

The Saints' (4-6) only third-quarter possession included two fourth-down conversions and 16 plays, but they ended with Wil Lutz's 30-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Saints running back Mark Ingram was placed in concussion protocol midway through the third quarter, while the Panthers lost defensive end Mario Addison to a fourth-quarter foot injury.

Carolina held a 20-3 halftime lead and converted when Kuechly returned a blocked field goal into New Orleans territory.   Continued...

Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower (34) carries the ball as Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy (94) defends during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Saints 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports