"Obviously, it was an important win for us." Saints Coach Sean Payton said after ending the Panthers' eight-game winning streak. "The concern I had coming into the game was having the energy we needed to play a divisional game on a short week. ... I thought we played with a lot of emotion. ... I thougnt the score late in the second quarter was important. ...
"Good win, good team win against a team we're going to see again in a couple of week."
It was a game full of milestones for the Saints as quarterback
Brees was spectacular, completing 30 of 42 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a rating over 124.4. The four TDs were equally divided between his two favorite targets - receiver
Brees now has 50,026 yards on his career (4,107 this season), joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and John Elway as players who have passed for more than 50,000 yards in their career. Brees did it in just 183 games, the fastest of the five.
"That's a pretty unique feat," Payton said. "To be in that class of four (other people) ... Happy for him, obviously proud of him.The Saints' defense - which was coming off a subpar outing last Monday against Seattle - was equally as impressive, sacking Carolina quarterback Cam Newton fives times and holding the Panthers to just two first quarter field goals and a late 17-yard TD pass to Steve Smith. Defensive end
The Panthers were outgained 373-239 and converted just 6 of 15 third-down attempts. The saints were 7 of 12 on third down and did not have a turnover.
After trailing 6-0 after the first quarter, the Saints went on a 31-0 run which was sparked by a 21-point second quarter. Brees connected with Colston for 6-yard and 15-yard scoring passes to end long scoring drives. The first drive was nine plays, 80 yards and ate up 3:21 on the clock. The second scoring drive was 11 plays for 86 yards and took 5:44 off the clock. Brees then led the Saints 76 yards capped by a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham with 18 seconds left in the half.
Brees' 6-yard touchdown pass to Colston in the second quarter was his 30th of the season, the sixth straight year he has thrown 30 or more TD passes. That broke a tie with Favre (five straight from 1994-98) for the most consecutive seasons of 30-plus TD passes in NFL history.
The Saints play at St. Louis (5-8) next Sunday at 3:25 p.m. and then travel to play Carolina again on Dec. 22. They will end the regular season at home on Dec. 29 against Tampa Bay. If the season ended today the Saints would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Seattle at 11-2 currently has the best record in the NFC.