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NFL Game Summary - Carolina at New Orleans



(Sunday, December 30th)

Final Score: Carolina 44, New Orleans 38

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - DeAngelo Williams ran for a Panthers-record 210 yards with a pair of scores, as Carolina wrapped up a solid finish to the season with a 44-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.

Mike Tolbert added 25 yards and three short touchdowns as part of a 273-yard rushing performance for the Panthers (7-9), who won their final four games and five of their last six, possibly saving coach Ron Rivera's job. Carolina improved upon last year's 6-10 mark in Rivera's first season.

Cam Newton battled through a leg injury in the fourth quarter and threw for 248 yards with an interception in the victory. The Panthers rebounded nicely after a 1-6 start, with their lone victory in that stretch coming in Week 2 against a Saints team that had its own problems throughout an up-and-down 2012.

"I'm proud of the fact that those guys showed up every day and worked, did the things we asked and did them very well," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "This is a good group of men and they deserved this."

New Orleans (7-9) had a chance to finish at .500 after a disastrous 0-4 start that followed numerous off-field issues, but instead wound up with a losing record for the first time since 2007.

Trouble for the Saints began in the spring with the announcement of the bounty scandal that featured the season-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton, who worked out a multi-year contract extension earlier this week.

A contract dispute in the summer with Drew Brees didn't help matters, although the star quarterback set an NFL record for most consecutive games with a TD pass and on Sunday reached 5,000 passing yards for the third time in his career while becoming the first player in league history with at least 40 TD passes in back-to-back years.

Brees threw for 396 yards with four scores and one interception on Sunday, while Jonathan Vilma -- a key figure in the NFL's bounty investigation -- returned an interception for a score. Vilma eventually won an appeal of his season-long suspension for his alleged role in the scandal.

The Saints opened a 24-13 lead early in the third quarter, but the porous defense allowed Carolina to score the next 28 points. New Orleans set an NFL mark for most yards allowed in a single season with 7,042, shattering the previous mark of 6,793 set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

"It's unacceptable what happened today," said Saints interim coach Joe Vitt. "It's disappointing. There's no way to sugarcoat it."

Williams, moments after officials negated a Saints defensive touchdown, scored on a 54-yard gallop to pull the Panthers within 24-20. Brees was picked off by Charles Godfrey late in the third and a Newton pass of 31 yards to Steve Smith set up Tolbert's 1-yard touchdown run, giving Carolina a 27-24 edge with 2 1/2 minutes left in the period.

Newton then directed an 80-yard drive early in the fourth that ended with Tolbert's third 1-yard TD run and a 69-yard punt return by Armanti Edwards was followed immediately by Williams' 12-yard scoring jaunt for a 41-24 cushion.

Brees tried to rally the Saints, throwing TD passes of nine yards to Marques Colston and 33 yards to Darren Sproles around a 42-yard Graham Gano field goal. The Sproles touchdown pulled New Orleans within six with 2:52 to play, but the Saints failed to recover the ensuing onsides kick.

Carolina, thanks to an 11-yard run from Williams and 10 more on three carries by Tolbert, chewed up the remaining time to complete a sweep of New Orleans for the first time since 2008.

The Panthers took their second possession 76 yards in 15 plays and settled for a 20-yard field goal from Gano, who then missed early in the second quarter from 54 yards away. Carolina, though, needed just three plays to go 82 yards for a touchdown midway through the second, as Williams keyed the short set with a 65-yard burst to the one before Tolbert scored on the next play for a 10-0 advantage.

New Orleans answered with a pair of touchdowns in a span of 43 seconds to move in front. Brees keyed a 76-yard drive with a 39-yard pass to Lance Moore and finished it with a 7-yard scoring toss to Colston on 4th-and-1. Two plays after the kickoff, Vilma sniffed out a screen pass and picked off Newton's errant throw, cruising into the end zone untouched from 18 yards away to make it 14-10.

The Panthers responded with a 31-yard field goal from Gano with 39 seconds left, but the Saints had time and Garrett Hartley drilled a 53-yard kick as time expired for a 17-13 halftime edge.

Brees engineered an 80-yard scoring drive to start the second half. A 51-yard circus catch by Moore on 3rd-and-12 kept it alive and Jimmy Graham hauled in a 19-yard TD pass to make it 24-13.

Game Notes

Williams eclipsed the previous Panthers record of 206 yards, set by Jonathan Stewart against the New York Giants on Dec. 27, 2009. Williams' previous best was 186 yards, set Dec. 8, 2008 against Tampa Bay ... Newton has 7,920 passing yards in his first two seasons, eclipsing Peyton Manning's previous NFL mark of 7,874 yards ... Brees joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino (1984 & '86) as the only quarterbacks with two seasons of at least 40 TD passes ... Vilma notched his 12th career interception and second INT return for a touchdown.

12/31 00:54:02 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UWGB 66
ECU 49
3rd
CHA 61
LAC 73
 
3rd
CHA 61
LAC 73
 
3rd
CLE 76
ORL 50
 
3rd
PHI 75
POR 82
 
Half
TOR 54
PHO 48
 
2nd
HOU 27
NYK 26
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
Final
UWGB 66
ECU 49
Final
WEBER 59
NEV 56
Final
FRES 52
EVAN 58
Final
KYST 88
PURD 79
Final
LSU 61
CLEM 64
Final
ALCOR 95
DILL 73
 
Final
CHIST 46
UGST 69
Final
DET 69
MDES 55
 
Final
ARZ 72
MIZZ 53
 
Final
INDST 61
PEAY 57
 
Final
FLGC 58
MAR 43
 
Final
LALAF 52
UWMIL 56
 
Final
ODU 58
GWEBB 46
 
2nd
MD 63
ARST 62
 
2nd
TOL 67
BUCK 40
 
2nd
JMU 61
COL 55
 
2nd
WINT 39
ETST 45
 
2nd
GSOUT 62
FIU 53
 
2nd
BST 70
GRAM 36
 
2nd
APP 59
HAMP 49
 
2nd
MAST 77
JVU 50
 
2nd
XAV 76
MURST 50
 
2nd
WAKE 58
NICST 24
 
2nd
MSU 56
SCU 27
 
2nd
LOU 71
SAV 14
 
2nd
TENT 69
SELA 58
 
2nd
VCU 38
VILL 51
 
2nd
OU 59
WCU 59
 
Half
IND 41
EWASH 35
 
1st
ILL 28
BRO 21
 
1st
MSST 23
CLAYST 15
 
1st
BEL 21
LIP 19
 
1st
TCU 40
MVSU 15
 
1st
IOWA 32
PEPP 24
 
1st
MEM 31
PVU 13
 
1st
KU 32
RIDE 15
 
1st
BAY 19
STEPH 18
 
1st
INCWORD 27
A 24
 
1st
USF 4
HAW 0
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
2nd
NYI 0
PHI 0
 
2nd
BOS 2
PIT 2
 
2nd
FLA 0
MIN 2
 
1st Intermission
DET 1
OTT 1
 
Half
BUF 14
NYJ 3
 
1st
NOS 0
BAL 0