CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cam Newton talked all week about how much better the Carolina Panthers were on offense then they showed in their season opener. He proved it Sunday.
The second-year quarterback threw for 253 yards and ran for a career-high 71 yards and led the Panthers to a 35-27 win over New Orleans, leaving the NFC South champion Saints 0-2 for the first time since 2007.
Times change, wide receiver Steve Smith said of Carolinas first win over New Orleans since 2009.
The Panthers tied a club record last week with 10 yards rushing in a loss to Tampa Bay.
They had no such problems moving the ball against the Saints. They got the running game going in the second quarter and rolled up 219 yards on the ground and 463 overall.
Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert all scored on short touchdown runs and Steve Smith overcame a sore knee to finish with 104 yards receiving – the 39th 100-yard-receiving game of his career.
Jonathan Stewart hauled in a 17-yard touchdown catch for the Panthers (1-1), and Brandon LaFell had six catches for 90 yards.
Newton kept the Saints off balance all day, running eight times for 66 yards in the first half as coordinator Rob Chudzinski used a variety of plays that allowed Carolina to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
The Saints, meanwhile, have serious concerns on defense.
Theyve allowed 922 yards and 75 points in two games against Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III.
If you look at our defense, and you look at the two offenses weve played, weve played the most unconventional offenses in the National Football League, said interim coach Aaron Kromer, who is running the team because coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt are serving suspensions for their roles in the Saints bounty scandal.
So do we have to do better against those styles of offenses? Yeah, we do.
Brees came in having won five straight starts against Carolina.
He threw for 325 yards but was intercepted twice, including once by Charles Godfrey, who returned it 9 yards for a touchdown.
Brees briefly appeared to be hurt in the third quarter when defensive end Greg Hardy collapsed the pocket and came crashing down on his leg from behind. Brees hobbled off the field but returned for the next series, never missing a play.
Its fine, Brees said. It just got rolled up on in an awkward position.