Charlotte - The Carolina Panthers turned two New Orleans Saints turnovers and two special teams mistake into a 20-3 halftime lead Thursday at Bank of America Stadium.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sacked and lost a fumble on the team's first possession. Carolina converted that into a 32-yard Graham Gano field goal. Later in the half Carolina safety Kurt Coleman intercepted a pass intended for tight end Coby Fleener. The Panthers converted that with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart.
The special teams unit put the Saints offense in a bad spot when returner Marcus Murphy took a Carolina kickoff and stepped out of bounds at the 1. The Saints were forced to punt and the Panthers took over at the 49-yard field goal which set them up for a 49-yard Gano field goal.
On the following possession the Panthers blocked a 38-yard field-goal attempt by Wil Lutz and returned it for a touchdown that was wiped out by an illegal blocking penalty. But on the next play Cam Newton hit Ted Ginn with a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The Saints scored on a 27-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
Saints stat leaders
Brees, 16 of 21 for 145 yards with one interception
Ingram, five carries for 17 yards
Cooks, four catches for 32 yards
Panthers stat leaders
Cam Newton, 8 of 19 for 134 yards and one touchdown
Jonathan Stewart, 10 carries for 18 yards
Devin Funchess, two catches for 32 yards