Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/16/12

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers found offense in various forms after a sluggish opener, grinding past the New Orleans Saints with quarterback Cam Newton becoming the third Carolina player to score a rushing touchdown in a 35-27 victory Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.

Newton also threw for a touchdown as the Panthers avoided an 0-2 start to a season that began with consecutive games against NFC South rivals.

The Saints, operating under interim coach Aaron Kromer, fell to 0-2.

Quarterback Drew Brees of the Saints threw for 97 first-quarter yards before Carolina's pass rush kicked in and created havoc for the Saints' passing attack. He finished with 325 passing yards, though a first-quarter interception proved crucial.

After gaining only 123 yards during the middle two quarters, the Saints put together three significant drives. But a fourth-quarter threat ended inside the Carolina 25 when Brees was stripped of the ball and then misfired after picking up the ball on a fourth-down pass and the margin stayed at 15 points.

Brees later scored on a 1-yard run with 1:55 remaining. Carolina's Greg Olsen recovered an ensuing onside kick, though the Saints got the ball back at their own 20 with 48 seconds left. Two players later, Jon Beason intercepted Brees.

Running back Pierre Thomas gained 110 rushing yards on nine carries for New Orleans.

Steve Smith accounted for 104 receiving yards on three catches for the Panthers. Newton's 73 rushing yards paced the Panthers on the ground.

The Saints took 32 of the game's first 48 snaps, a trend that reversed when the Panthers started a ball-control offense that resulted in more than 200 rushing yards.

Brees hooked up with tight end Jimmy Graham for a 1-yard touchdown pass to complete a game-opening 11-play, 80-yard drive. Running back Darren Sproles caught five passes for 54 yards on the march, collecting half of his 128 receiving yards in the game. The Saints gave those points back on their next possession when Carolina safety Charles Godfrey stepped in front of a Brees pass and returned it 9 yards for a touchdown. It was the first interception returned for a touchdown in Godfrey's five-year career.

The Panthers moved inside the New Orleans 5-yard line but on fourth-and-inches Newton's wayward pitchout on the option resulted in a change of possession. Newton had picked up two rushing first downs on the drive.

The Saints responded to build a 13-7 edge on Garrett Hartley's 53-yard field goal.

Carolina took its first lead of the season at 14-13 after Jonathan Stewart ran 17 yards untouched with a screen pass from Newton with 3:33 left in the first half. When Mike Tolbert ran in from 2 yards out with 11 seconds remaining in the half, the Panthers ended up with a 21-13 advantage.

DeAngelo Williams ran in from 3 yards out as the Panthers pushed their lead to 28-13 midway through the third quarter.

The Saints went more than 24 minutes without scoring until Mark Ingram's 1-yard run with 12:53 to play.

The Panthers have a quick turnaround because they play Thursday night at home against the New York Giants.

Notes: Graham, a former high school basketball player in North Carolina before a college basketball career at Miami, dunked the ball through the goal posts after his touchdown catch, drawing boos from the fans. ... Stewart, a running back who missed the opener with an ankle injury, was the backup tailback against New Orleans, though he had a carry on the team's first possession. ... Side judge Brian Stropolo, a replacement official assigned to the game amid the NFL's labor dispute with its officials' union, was pulled in a pregame decision by the NFL when it was revealed that he had expressed adoration for the Saints via social media. So there was a replacement official for a replacement official. ... The Panthers lead the all-time series 18-17.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Former NFL LB Armstrong, wife reportedly killed by 16-year-old son

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again


Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

Is it time to start taking West Ham seriously?

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker