There were a lot of firsts for the Carolina Panthers in their 35-27 victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Ron Rivera and Cam Newton were triumphant over the Saints for the first time since the pair started a new era in Charlotte last season. Newton also rushed for a career-high 71 yards on 13 carries. Charles Godfrey scored a touchdown for the first time in his five-year NFL career.
But most importantly, this version of the Carolina Panthers, the same team who coughed up eight second-half leads in 2011, finally closed out a good team in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers, who overcame an early 13-7 lead, seized control of the game in the second quarter to take a 21-13 lead into halftime. After extending that lead to 28-13 in the third quarter, the Saints used a Mark Ingram 1-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 28-20 with 12:57 to play.
At this point, every Panthers fan in Bank of America Stadium began holding their breath. They had seen this act before.