Drew Brees picks apart Panthers; Saints win 31-26 at Superdome

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New Orleans' 31-26 win made them a ideal 3-0 against Carolina this season by a combined score of 96-60. Kelemete, pressed into service often this season because of injuries, filled in at guard after Peat fractured his fibula against the Panthers.

The Saints (12-5) will be out to avenge a 29-19 season-opening loss to the Vikings (13-3), a game played almost four months ago on a national stage at the same stadium and the site of Super Bowl LII on February 4.

The Saints led 21-9 at halftime, and 24-12 heading into the fourth quarter.

After a couple of step-up plays by Mark Ingram and some nifty manoeuvring down the sideline by Michael Thomas, Brees called a play-action that left Josh Hill wide open in the end zone. After missing the rest of that series, Newton came back to lead another scoring drive, this time connecting with Christian McCaffery on a 56-yard touchdown. He was taken from the game and was replaced by backup Derek Anderson. The Panthers immediately announced Newton was being evaluated for a concussion. "It was very clear that they were determined to play (against) the run, so there were probably going to be some plays on the outside".

And as the player who held a broom in his hand during postgame interviews to signify a Saints' three-game "sweep" of the Panthers.

Brees rolled out to his right and found Thomas far downfield for another red-zone possession.

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The Panthers stifled the Saints' ground game, holding an attack that had ranked fifth in the National Football League at 129.4 yards a game to 41 yards. An Onyemata hit forced an early throw that rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore batted away, and on second down, Jordan drove into Newton, forcing the Panthers quarterback to throw the ball away.

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - For Saints coach Sean Payton and his players, it's a bit of a stretch to call their return to Minnesota a rematch. However, Panthers lineman Trai Turner was also flagged for holding, offsetting that penalty.

Cam Newton threw a fourth quarter strike to Greg Olsen, only for Alvin Kamara to respond again, and another to Christian McCaffrey - a handsome 56-yard touchdown that saw the rookie blaze a trail into the endzone.

Newton was pressured the most in the fourth quarter.

Instead of carrying the "Bring the Wood" bat as he did in pre-game of the Saints' playoff opener against the Arizona Cardinals during the Super Bowl run, Bush simply wore a No. 91 Saints jersey in honor of late teammate Will Smith.

Newton was sacked on Carolina's final play, a 17-yard loss.

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-The Saints scored three touchdowns in the first half.

The 12 points from kicker Graham Gano was all the Panthers could muster until Greg Olson pulled in a 24-yard TD pass from Newton with 12:47 left to make the score 24-19.

Newton failed to complete a pass to Clay on third-and-2, which sent Gano out for the failed field-goal try. "If the Panthers look good, that affects people's mentality and they're more willing to come out".

Brees went 13 of 18 for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the half, including an 80-yard pass to Ted Ginn for the first points of the game late in the first quarter.

The defense did not give Newton much help for long stretches.

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