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Saints alone atop NFC South after 31-21 win over Panthers

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Saints rookie sensation Alvin Kamara took the brunt of a hard collision near the goal line with Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson, who is 2 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than runner he was trying to prevent from scoring on fourth down.

Kamara bounced backward but remained upright, then slithered out of defensive end Wes Horton's ankle grab and dived under linebacker Luke Kuechly's lunge to find the end zone .

''That was just: I've got to get in there by any means,'' Kamara said. ''I got hit and got it on in.''

Kamara added a second tackle-shedding touchdown from 20 yards, New Orleans took advantage of a couple Carolina special teams gaffes, and the Saints reclaimed sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a 31-21 victory over the Panthers on Sunday.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera seemed at a loss to pinpoint what his defense could have done better to stop Kamara, whose production as a runner and receiver as a rookie are placing him in distinguished company.

''You prepare for everything you want, but he has got some elite ability,'' Rivera said.

Kamara finished with 126 yards from scrimmage, capping his day with a serpentine, 22-yard gain on a third-and-10 screen pass at the two-minute warning. The first-down gain allowed New Orleans to run out the clock.

''He's a monster,'' fellow Saints running back Mark Ingram said. ''He's always balling, doing his thing, running and catching. He's definitely the rookie of the year. He's savage. Cold-blooded.''

Carolina entered the game ranked second defensively overall and third against the run, allowing 83.2 yards per game. The Saints rushed for 148 yards, with Ingram gaining 85.

Ingram gained 122 yards from scrimmage, highlighting his day with a 72-yard run that set up his 3-yard TD.

Drew Brees passed for 269 yards, including a 10-yard TD to Michael Thomas a few plays after Panthers punter Michael Palardy lost his handle on the ball as he was about the kick it away. Palardy aborted the punt and threw incomplete, giving New Orleans the ball on the Carolina 31.

In the fourth quarter, a fumble by Panthers punt returner Kaelin Clay near midfield set up Wil Lutz's 31-yard field goal to give New Orleans a 31-14 lead.

Cam Newton passed for 183 yards and touchdowns of 21 yards to Christian McCaffrey and 24 yards to Devin Funchess. Newton also ran for 51 yards . Jonathan Stewart added a short TD run for Carolina, which had its four-game winning streak ended.

The Panthers' comeback attempt was hindered by their inability to convert a fourth-and-6 play deep in Saints territory in the fourth quarter. Newton connected with Funchess, who was stopped a yard short by cornerback Ken Crawley.

''That's a good team,'' Newton said of the Saints, who allowed Carolina to convert only three of 10 third-down plays. ''We just have to move forward, be optimistic of our opportunities knowing that the world just doesn't stop because the Panthers lost today. We have to learn from this.''

MAKING HISTORY

Kamara has touchdowns in six straight games, the first time a Saints rookie has done so in the team's 51-year history. Kamara needs three touchdowns to break George Rogers' rookie franchise record of 13.

Meanwhile, Kamara's 614 yards receiving and 606 yards rushing this season make him one of only three rookies in NFL history to have at least 600 yards as both a runner and receiver, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Charley Taylor and Billy Sims.

Brees, who completed 25 of 34 passes, reached 6,127 career completions, surpassing Peyton Manning (6,125) for the second-most all-time. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has more with 6,300.

UNCONVENTIONAL DEBUT

Saints rookie quarterback Taysom Hill made his NFL debut - on special teams.

Saints coach Sean Payton said ''it just made sense'' because Hill, who was undrafted out of BYU, is 6-foot-2, 221 pounds and runs well.

Hill had a couple of tackles in kick coverage and almost blocked a punt.

''I love it. What a stud,'' Brees said. ''It's not every day you say, `Hey quarterback who's never played special teams - ever. We're going to have you play in an NFL game and run down on kickoffs and rushing punts and tackling people.'''

INJURIES

Panthers played without tight end Greg Olsen, ruled out before the game because of soreness in his broken foot.

Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore also was scratched for a second straight week as he recovers from a Week 11 ankle injury.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Host Minnesota on Sunday.

Saints: Visit Atlanta on Thursday night.

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Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
C. Newton 1 QB
183 PaYds, 2 PaTDs, 51 RuYds
24
FPTS
A. Kamara 41 RB
60 RuYds, 2 RuTDs, 66 ReYds, 5 RECs
24
FPTS
Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 3:57
G.Gano extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Jansen, Holder-M.Palardy.
plays
yds
pos
21
31
Touchdown 3:57
C.Newton pass short right to D.Funchess for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Pass 14, YAC 10
5
plays
75
yds
2:11
pos
20
31
Field Goal 6:08
W.Lutz 31 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
6
plays
34
yds
2:47
pos
14
31
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 8:10
W.Lutz extra point is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
plays
yds
pos
14
28
Touchdown 8:10
A.Kamara right tackle for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
8
plays
67
yds
5:04
pos
14
27
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 1:56
G.Gano extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Jansen, Holder-M.Palardy.
plays
yds
pos
14
21
Touchdown 1:56
C.Newton pass short left to C.McCaffrey for 21 yards, TOUCHDOWN. NO-T.Hendrickson was injured during the play. His return is Questionable. Pass 1, YAC 20
4
plays
45
yds
1:54
pos
13
21
Point After TD 7:21
W.Lutz extra point is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
plays
yds
pos
7
21
Touchdown 7:21
D.Brees pass short right to M.Thomas for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Pass 10, YAC 0
6
plays
31
yds
3:18
pos
7
20
Point After TD 11:32
W.Lutz extra point is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
plays
yds
pos
7
14
Touchdown 11:32
M.Ingram right guard for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
3
plays
84
yds
1:36
pos
7
13
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 5:09
G.Gano extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Jansen, Holder-M.Palardy.
plays
yds
pos
7
7
Touchdown 5:09
T.Moton reported in as eligible. J.Stewart left guard for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
10
plays
75
yds
5:06
pos
6
7
Point After TD 10:15
W.Lutz extra point is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 10:15
A.Kamara right end for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
11
plays
70
yds
4:45
pos
0
6
Team Stats
Time of Pos 26:39 33:21
1st Downs 16 19
Rushing 4 5
Passing 8 12
Penalty 4 2
3rd Down Conv 3-10 6-15
4th Down Conv 0-2 1-1
Total Net Yards 279 400
Total Plays 53 64
Avg Gain 5.3 6.3
Net Yards Rushing 112 148
Rush Attempts 23 28
Avg Rush Yards 4.9 5.3
Net Yards Passing 167 252
Comp. - Att. 17-28 25-34
Yards Per Pass 6.0 7.4
Sacked - Yards Lost 2-16 2-17
Penalties - Yards 6-54 7-68
Touchdowns 3 4
Rushing TDs 1 3
Passing TDs 2 1
Other 0 0
Turnovers 1 1
Fumbles - Lost 3-1 1-1
Int. Thrown 0 0
Punts - Avg 5-43.0 4-46.0
Return Yards 62 5
Punts - Returns 3-20 2-5
Kickoffs - Returns 2-42 0-0
Int. - Returns 0-0 0-0
Kicking 3/3 5/6
Extra Points 3/3 4/4
Field Goals 0/0 1/2
Red Zone Eff. 1-2 -50% 3-5 -60%
Goal to Go Eff. 1-1 -100% 1-1 -100%
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Panthers 8-4 770721
Saints 9-3 7147331
167 PASS YDS 252
112 RUSH YDS 148
279 TOTAL YDS 400
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
C. Newton 1 QB
24
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
63% 183 2 0 107.5
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60.5% 2583 16 11 83.0
C. Newton 17/27 183 2 0 24
M. Palardy 5 P
0
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 39.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 39.6
M. Palardy 0/1 0 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
C. Newton 1 QB
24
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
6 51 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
89 515 5
C. Newton 6 51 0 32 24
J. Stewart 28 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
11 45 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
164 531 3
J. Stewart 11 45 1 10 10
C. McCaffrey 22 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
6 16 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
82 284 2
C. McCaffrey 6 16 0 5 10
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
D. Funchess 17 WR
12
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
7 4 60 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 54 703 6
D. Funchess 7 4 60 1 24 12
C. McCaffrey 22 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
6 5 33 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 64 501 4
C. McCaffrey 6 5 33 1 21 10
R. Shepard 19 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
5 3 29 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 17 202 1
R. Shepard 5 3 29 0 19 2
B. Bersin 11 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 18 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 2 30 0
B. Bersin 2 1 18 0 18 1
E. Dickson 84 TE
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 2 18 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 28 415 1
E. Dickson 2 2 18 0 12 1
K. Clay 12 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 13 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 3 46 0
K. Clay 1 1 13 0 13 0
D. Byrd 18 WR
1
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 12 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 1 12 0
D. Byrd 2 1 12 0 12 1
S. Green-Thompson 54 OLB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 0 0 0
S. Green-Thompson 1 0 0 0 0 0
C. Manhertz 82 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 1 11 0
C. Manhertz 1 0 0 0 0 0
J. Stewart 28 RB
10
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 0 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 6 44 1
J. Stewart 1 0 0 0 0 10
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
L. Kuechly 59 MLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
53-36 3 0.0
L. Kuechly 8-1 0.0 0 0
M. Adams 29 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
34-15 2 0.0
M. Adams 5-1 0.0 0 1
K. Coleman 20 FS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
33-18 0 0.0
K. Coleman 4-2 0.0 0 0
D. Worley 26 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
27-9 0 0.0
D. Worley 3-0 0.0 0 0
J. Bradberry 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
48-12 0 1.0
J. Bradberry 3-3 0.0 0 0
J. Peppers 90 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
18-9 0 8.0
J. Peppers 2-1 0.0 0 0
D. Mayo 55 MLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
7-10 0 0.0
D. Mayo 2-2 0.0 0 0
M. Addison 97 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
21-12 0 8.0
M. Addison 2-0 1.0 0 0
K. Seymour 27 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
15-1 0 0.0
K. Seymour 2-0 0.0 0 0
S. Green-Thompson 54 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
36-14 0 2.0
S. Green-Thompson 2-2 0.0 0 0
T. Davis 58 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
39-19 0 2.0
T. Davis 1-1 0.0 0 0
K. Short 99 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
20-18 0 4.0
K. Short 1-1 0.0 0 0
B. Cox 64 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
B. Cox 1-1 0.0 0 0
C. Munnerlyn 41 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
17-3 0 2.0
C. Munnerlyn 1-1 0.0 0 0
K. Love 93 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-7 0 2.0
K. Love 1-1 1.0 0 0
S. Lotulelei 98 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-14 0 0.0
S. Lotulelei 0-3 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
G. Gano 9 K
3
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
0/0 3/3
SEASON FG XP
23/24 24/26
G. Gano 0/0 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
M. Palardy 5 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
5 43.0 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
51 46.8 19
M. Palardy 5 43.0 2 51
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
F. Whittaker 43 RB
0
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 21.0 23 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 22.8 31 0
F. Whittaker 2 21.0 23 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
K. Clay 12 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 6.7 9 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
14 8.5 120 1
K. Clay 3 6.7 9 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT FPTS
D. Brees 9 QB
16
FPTS
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
73.5% 269 1 0 106.1
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
71.5% 3298 17 5 104.2
D. Brees 25/34 269 1 0 16
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG FPTS
M. Ingram 22 RB
17
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
14 85 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
180 922 9
M. Ingram 14 85 1 72 17
A. Kamara 41 RB
24
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
9 60 2
SEASON ATT YDS TD
86 606 7
A. Kamara 9 60 2 20 24
T. Ginn 19 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 6 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
6 26 0
T. Ginn 1 6 0 6 2
D. Brees 9 QB
16
FPTS
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 -3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
26 13 2
D. Brees 4 -3 0 1 16
Receiving TAR REC YDS TD LG FPTS
M. Thomas 13 WR
13
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
9 5 70 1
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 75 875 3
M. Thomas 9 5 70 1 32 13
A. Kamara 41 RB
24
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
6 5 66 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 59 614 4
A. Kamara 6 5 66 0 22 24
M. Ingram 22 RB
17
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
7 6 37 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 42 255 0
M. Ingram 7 6 37 0 11 17
W. Snead 83 WR
3
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 2 31 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 5 63 0
W. Snead 2 2 31 0 26 3
B. Coleman 16 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 2 28 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 18 316 3
B. Coleman 2 2 28 0 15 2
T. Ginn 19 WR
2
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
3 2 27 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 44 668 3
T. Ginn 3 2 27 0 21 2
J. Hill 89 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
2 1 8 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 10 70 1
J. Hill 2 1 8 0 8 0
T. Lewis 11 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 2 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 8 86 0
T. Lewis 1 1 2 0 2 0
M. Hoomanawanui 84 TE
0
FPTS
IN-GAME TGT REC YDS TD
1 1 0 0
SEASON TGT REC YDS TD
- 6 52 1
M. Hoomanawanui 1 1 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT FF
C. Jordan 94 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
38-14 1 10.0
C. Jordan 5-1 0.0 0 0
P. Williams 26 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
27-13 2 0.0
P. Williams 4-1 0.0 0 0
K. Vaccaro 32 SS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
37-10 3 1.0
K. Vaccaro 3-0 1.0 0 0
A. Klein 53 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
37-17 0 2.0
A. Klein 3-2 1.0 0 0
K. Crawley 20 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
30-3 1 0.0
K. Crawley 3-0 0.0 0 0
T. Davison 95 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
18-7 0 0.0
T. Davison 3-1 0.0 0 0
J. Hughes 92 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
J. Hughes 2-0 0.0 0 0
V. Bell 48 FS
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
48-17 0 3.0
V. Bell 2-1 0.0 0 0
C. Robertson 52 OLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
33-18 0 2.0
C. Robertson 2-1 0.0 0 0
R. Bush 25 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
12-5 0 1.0
R. Bush 2-0 0.0 0 0
S. Rankins 98 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-6 1 1.0
S. Rankins 2-0 0.0 0 0
S. Moore 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
S. Moore 1-0 0.0 0 1
D. Onyemata 93 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-18 0 1.0
D. Onyemata 1-3 0.0 0 0
M. Te'o 51 MLB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
21-15 0 0.0
M. Te'o 0-1 0.0 0 0
T. Hendrickson 91 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-6 0 2.0
T. Hendrickson 0-1 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
W. Lutz 3 K
7
FPTS
IN-GAME FG XP
1/2 4/4
SEASON FG XP
25/30 36/39
W. Lutz 1/2 31 4/4 7
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
T. Morstead 6 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
4 46.0 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
41 48.1 19
T. Morstead 4 46.0 1 53
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Lewis 11 WR
0
FPTS
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
2 2.5 3 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 10.8 24 0
T. Lewis 2 2.5 3 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:15 CAR 25 5:06 10 75 TD
3:43 CAR 28 2:13 3 3 Punt
0:08 CAR 34 2:00 3 5 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:32 CAR 25 0:53 4 6 Downs
7:21 CAR 23 2:16 3 9 Punt
3:50 NO 45 1:54 4 45 TD
0:46 CAR 19 0:46 2 4 Half
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 CAR 19 1:46 3 -5 Punt
8:10 CAR 25 2:33 5 13 Punt
1:18 CAR 28 5:01 11 65 Downs
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
6:08 CAR 25 2:11 5 75 TD
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 NO 30 4:45 11 70 TD
5:09 NO 25 1:26 3 6 Punt
1:30 NO 25 1:22 3 4 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:08 NO 16 1:36 3 84 TD
10:39 CAR 31 3:18 6 31 TD
5:05 NO 17 1:15 3 25 Fumble
1:56 NO 25 1:10 6 25 Punt
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:14 NO 33 5:04 8 67 TD
5:37 NO 35 4:19 8 45 FG Miss
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:17 NO 7 2:22 3 -2 Punt
8:55 CAR 47 2:47 6 34 FG
3:57 50 3:57 6 18 Game