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Saints 30, Panthers 27

Brees delivers lesson as well as comeback

By Aaron Beard
Associated Press / October 10, 2011

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Drew Brees kept stepping up in the pocket, spreading the ball among his receivers and moving the New Orleans Saints downfield for the go-ahead score as the time ticked away in the fourth quarter.

The veteran passer gave rookie Cam Newton a lesson in staging comebacks.

Brees found Pierre Thomas wide open on the right side for a 6-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left, helping the Saints rally past the Carolina Panthers , 30-27, yesterday for their fourth straight win.

Brees threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns, including the nearly flawless final drive in which he completed 8 of 9 passes for 80 yards to take back momentum after Newton and the Panthers (1-4) had taken their first lead earlier in the period. Making it even more impressive, the drive lasted more than six minutes and left Carolina with little time to answer.

“Calm, cool, collected,’’ Brees said of the Saints’ mentality entering the final drive. “We’ve been here many times before, which we have. Let’s just go be us. Let’s do what we do. Nothing spectacular, but just methodical.’’

The Panthers reached midfield on their final drive before Newton’s desperation heave fell incomplete on the final play.

Newton threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead 5-yard scoring pass to Greg Olsen for a 27-23 lead with 12:32 to play. He also scored on a sneak late in the third quarter. But when it was over, Newton and the Panthers had suffered their fourth loss by 7 or fewer points.

“I mean, you’ve got standards,’’ Newton said. “And when you don’t meet that quota on yourself, you just ask yourself why. There’s a reason we keep losing. And I want to know the reason.’’

Mark Ingram also ran for a second-quarter touchdown for the Saints (4-1), while Brees found Jed Collins for a short scoring pass about a minute into the game after Newton tossed an interception on his first throw.

The first quarter made things a little testier between division rivals.

Newton stepped up in the pocket and fired a high pass downfield to Steve Smith. Smith jumped to beat cornerback Jabari Greer to the pass, knocking Greer down. Smith had an easy 30-yard run to the end zone.

But as Smith coasted the final 5 yards and crossed the goal line, safety Roman Harper sprinted in on the left side and leveled Smith with a hard hit.

Smith immediately jumped up and spun the ball to the turf defiantly while players from both sides ran down and began shoving each other. Smith then locked up with Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, shoving him to the ground and standing over him while holding a firm grip on Jenkins’s facemask before the scuffle finally ended.

“If you’re going to score, go score, but a guy is not going to try and just walk it in on us like that,’’ Harper said. “You’re going to have to pay for it as you get past the goal line.’’

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