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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

Other Stories

  • ACC: Wake Forest at Duke

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Clemson

    Tonight at 9:00 on WRAL-FM

  • ACC: Duke vs. Wake Forest

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 620am

  • Big Ten: Wisconsin at Minnesota

    Thursday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NBA: Dallas at Portland

    Thursday at 9:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHI 5
CAR 2
Final
SAV 49
NCCU 62
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
GT
UNC
 
9:00pm Tonight
CLEM
NCSU
 
Final
MIA 7
FIU 2
 
Final
DET 12
FLASO 2
 
1:05pm Today
DET
BAL
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
MIAFLA
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
BOS
NEASTERN
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
PIT
 
3:05pm Today
CIN
CLE
 
3:05pm Today
OAK
SFG
 
4:05pm Today
BOS
BOSTONCOLL
 
5:10pm Tonight
ARI
ASU
 
Final
PHI 103
TOR 114
Final
BRK 110
GSW 108
Final
MIA 115
PHO 98
Final
MIN 105
LAC 110
Final
DAL 102
NOP 93
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYK
SAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
MIL
 
Final
TEX 61
BAY 59
Final
SYR 47
UVA 59
Final
SHSU 76
CARK 49
 
Final
NWST 92
SELA 79
 
Final
NCAT 67
COOK 50
 
Final
HOW 61
NORST 59
 
Final
DELST 85
HAMP 75
 
Final
STEPH 83
INCWORD 62
 
Final
MCNST 70
LAM 69
 
Final
NO 79
NICST 89
 
Final
SAV 49
NCCU 62
 
Final
ALAAM 75
TXSOU 77
 
Final
VT 59
BC 66
Final
MVSU 66
GRAM 62
 
Final
ISU 77
OKLA 70
Final
ALAST 65
PVU 67
 
Final
ARKPB 64
JST 62
 
7:00pm Tonight
UMO
AKR
 
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
ARMY
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
EMICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUT
GEOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
IOWA
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLGC
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
USCU
KNST
 
7:00pm Tonight
BGU
KSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
NKENTUCKY
LIP
 
7:00pm Tonight
HC
GHND
 
7:00pm Tonight
RUTG
MD
 
7:00pm Tonight
GT
UNC
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
OHIO
 
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ALA
MISS
 
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DAY
RIU
 
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CMICH
TOL
 
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DET
YOUNG
 
7:30pm Tonight
UNF
STET
 
8:00pm Tonight
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HOUB
 
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NDAK
NEOM
 
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WMICH
 
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WRST
 
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MIZZ
AUB
 
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UGA
KENT
 
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NW
MICH
 
9:00pm Tonight
CLEM
NCSU
 
9:00pm Tonight
UF
TEXAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
KU
WVU
 
9:15pm Tonight
CREI
VILL
 
Final
NYR 4
NAS 1
Final
CHI 5
CAR 2
Final
SJS 4
MON 0
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
NAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
BUF
 
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FLA
TOR
 
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MIN
OTT
 
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DAL
NYI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
ANA
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
LOS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
SJS