Charlotte, N.C. - The New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers 28-10 on "Thursday Night Football" to get back to .500, take over first place in the NFC South and end a seven-game regular season road losing streak.
It was a dominant performance from the Saints even though they didn't score their first touchdown until late in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium.
The Saints improved to 4-4 and moved into first place in the NFC South while the loss dropped second-place Carolina to 3-5-1.
Quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Mark Ingram led the offensive charge while a complete team effort powered the defense. New Orleans hit Carolina quarterback Cam Newton early and often, forcing numerous off-target passes, one forced fumble (by linebacker Junior Galette) and one interception (Corey White). The Saints sacked Newton four times. He finished 10 of 28 for 151 yards and the pick.
Carolina finished with less than 231 yards of offense and didn't score until the third quarter.
Brees, who had two tunrovers in the first quarter, was nearly flawless the rest of the game. He finished 24 of 34 for 297 yards and a touchdown pass to Graham. His tight end had seven catches for 83 yards and the TD. Mark Ingram, who scored the team's first TD on a two-yard dive, carried the ball 30 times for 100 yards and two TDs. It was Ingram's second consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
Saints linebacker Junior Galette made the play of the first half when he sacked Newton and forced a fumble that was recovered by Curtis Lofton at the 4-yard line.
Two plays later running back Ingram plowed in from two yards out to give the Saints a 7-0 lead. The Saints would add a 1-yard TD pass from Brees to Graham in the closing seconds of the second quarter for a 14-0 lead at halftime.
The second touchdown capped an 85-yard, 15-play drive in the final two minutes of the half. The Saints were able to score when Carolina was called for pass interference on Robert Meachem while he was trying to catch a pass in the end zone. The penalty gave the Saints a first-and-goal at the 1.
The Saints had opportunities to score on their first two possessions, driving deep into Carolina territory only to have both drives end with turnovers, a Brees interception that bounced off Kenny Stills and a Brees fumble caused when teammate Erik Lorig hit the ball while blocking.But the Panthers failed to turn the extra possessions into points as the Saints forced them to punt both times.
The Saints will be off until they play the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 9 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.