Charlotte, N.C. - The New Orleans Saints secured their first win in emphatic fashion Sunday with a 34-13 victory over the previously undefeated Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
The winning formula: quarterback Drew Brees tossed three touchdown passes (Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman and Ted Ginn Jr. ), the defense sacked Carolina quarterback Cam Newton four time and forced its first three turnovers of the season.
The Saints (1-2) will travel to London on Sunday night to begin preparations for next Sunday's game vs. the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium.
After surrenedering an early Carolina field goal, the Saints took a 7-3 lead when Brees hit Thomas for a 5-yard score, the fifth time they connected on the team's opening drive and never looked back. Brees was sharp all game and the running backs - and Ginn - took turns busting big runs. Rookie Alvin Kamara had the biggest, a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Carolina entered the game as the NFL's top defense leading in total yards allowed, passing average, first downs allowed and points allowed.
Saints defensive ends Cam Jordan, Hau'oli Kikaha, Trey Hendrickson and Alex Okafor each had a sack while cornerback P.J. Williams came up with a second quarter interception on very nice play. Rookie safety Marcus Williams added another interception in the fourth quarter on an amazing one-handed snag and veteran safety Kenny Vaccaro joined the fun with another interception in the fourth quarter. They were the team's first forced turnovers this season.
Special teams contributed to the win as well with two Wil Lutz field goals (33 and 50 yards), a booming Thomas Morstead 59-yard punt and solid coverage teams on kickoffs.
Carolina (2-1) lost receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury in the first half and linebacker Thomas Davis to a rib injury in the second half (he later returned)
The Saints will get Drew Brees back for the Dolphins game as his three-game suspension is over.
New Orleans Saints stats
Drew Brees, 22 of 29 for 220 yards and three TDs
Mark Ingram II, 14 carries for 56 yards
Michael Thomas, seven catches for 87 yards and one TD
Carolina Panthers stats
Cam Newton, 17 of 26 for 167 yards with one rushing TD
Jonathan Stewart, 12 carries for 57 yards
Christian McCaffrey, nine catches for 101 yards