December 22, 2013 / 9:33 PM / 4 years ago

Panthers claw way to win over Saints and playoff spot

(Reuters) - Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton engineered a last gasp touchdown drive to clinch a thrilling 17-13 win over the New Orleans Saints and the Panthers’ first trip in the National Football League playoffs since 2008 on Sunday.

Dec 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After Drew Brees had marched New Orleans 97 yards, hitting Jimmy Graham for a go ahead touchdown, Newton went right to work to keep the Saints from clinching the NFC South division crown and a first round playoff bye.

With 55 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts, Newton took the Panthers 65 yards on five plays hitting Domenik Hixon with a 14-yard touchdown strike to stun the Saints and send the sellout Charlotte crowd into wild celebration.

While the Panthers improved to 11-4 and can wrap up the division with a win in the season finale next week the Saints slipped to 10-5 but could still clinch a post-season berth depending on other Sunday results.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Gene Cherry

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