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Panthers-Saints Postgame Notes

Posted Jan 1, 2012

The Series: With the 45-17 victory, New Orleans swept the season series after defeating Carolina, 30-27, earlier this season at Bank of America Stadium (10/9/11). The Saints have won the last four meetings against the Panthers to even the all-time series at 17. Since 1995, Carolina and New Orleans have split the season series nine times, and one of the two clubs has swept the season series on eight occasions.

Southern Comfort: The Panthers ended the 2011 season with a 2-4 record against their NFC South foes - defeating the Buccaneers twice, losing both games to the Falcons and getting swept by the Saints. Carolina has a 31-29 overall mark in the NFC South since the division was formed in 2002.

For Starters: Ogemdi Nwagbuo started at defensive tackle in place of Andre Neblett, who was inactive with a concussion. Antwan Applewhite opened at defensive end in place of Charles Johnson, who was inactive with an injured back. Strong safety Charles Godfrey returned to the lineup after being inactive with a shoulder injury versus Tampa Bay (12/24/11). This represented the 13th different defensive starting alignment employed by the Panthers during the 2011 season.

Totally Offensive: Carolina generated 301 yards of total offense and gained 21 first downs against New Orleans to finish the season with team records of 6,237 net yards (2,408 rushing and 3,829 passing) and 345 first downs (139 rushing, 175 passing and 31 penalty). The Panthers surpassed the previous marks of 5,686 net yards in 1999 and 308 first downs in 2004.

The 2,408 rushing yards represent the third most on the ground in team history behind the record 2,498 yards in 2009 and 2,437 yards in 2008, while the 3,829 net passing yards are the second most through the air in franchise annals behind the record 4,161 yards in 1999.

Extra Points: The Panthers tallied 17 points against the Saints and scored 406 (48 touchdowns, 44 extra points, 22 field goals, 2 safeties and 2 two-point conversions) for the season. The 406 points rank as the third most in team history behind the record 421 points in 1999 and 414 points in 2008. The 48 touchdowns stand as the second most in franchise annals behind the team-record 50 in 1999. The 2 two-point conversions equal the most in a single season, previously accomplished five times - most recently in 2009.

Smith Tops Receiving Chart: Wide receiver Steve Smith posted a team-high six catches for 86 yards with a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter to become the Panthers' all-time leader with 699 receptions, surpassing the 696 by Muhsin Muhammad from 1996-2004 and 2008-09. The 11-year veteran reached the milestone on a 20-yard reception in the final two minutes of the first half.

This is the second franchise receiving record Smith has staked his claim to this season. In Week 4 at Chicago (10/2/11), he also became the team's career leader in receiving yards, bettering the 9,255 yards by Muhammad. Remarkably, Smith did it with 57 fewer catches than Muhammad (639 to 696). In Week 14 versus Atlanta (12/11/11), he became the 35th player in NFL history to amass 10,000 receiving yards.

Smith led the Panthers with 79 receptions for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns this year. His average of 17.65 yards per catch ranks as the second highest in team history behind his record of 18.22 yards in 2008. This marks the sixth time in Smith's career that he has reached the 1,000-yard receiving plateau, previously racking up 1,110 yards in 2003, a team-record 1,563 in 2005, 1,166 in 2006, 1,002 in 2007 and 1,421 in 2008.

A five-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranks first in team history with 67 total touchdowns (59 receiving, 6 return, 2 rush), 59 receiving touchdowns, 699 receptions, 10,278 receiving yards, 14.70 receiving average, and 38 games with 100 or more receiving yards. Smith also is second with 406 points scored.

Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 15-of-25 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown with one interception to compile a 75.1 quarterback rating. He threw a 12-yard touchdown to wide receiver Steve Smith in the first quarter.

The starter in all 16 games, Newton completed 310-of-517 passes for 4,051 yards - the most by a rookie in NFL history - and 21 touchdowns with 17 interceptions to post an 84.5 quarterback rating. The 310 completions and 21 touchdowns are the third most in NFL history by a rookie quarterback.

Newton, who finished the year with 4,051 yards passing and 706 yards rushing, became the first player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for at least 500 yards in a single season. In 1998, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young passed for 4,170 yards and rushed for 454 yards, the most ever previously by a 4,000-yard passer in NFL history.

PANTHERS ROOKIE PASSING RECORDS
STATISTIC CAM NEWTON PREVIOUS RECORD
Completions 310 293 - Chris Weinke, 2001
Yards 4,051 2,931 - Chris Weinke, 2001
Touchdowns 21 14 - Kerry Collins, 1995
Completion Percentage 60.0 56.8 - Matt Moore, 2007
Passer Rating 84.5 67.0 - Matt Moore, 2007

Newton passed for 300 or more yards in three games, producing three of the top four single-game passing totals in team history. He tossed a touchdown in each of the first five games and in each of the last five games- the longest streaks by a rookie quarterback in team history - bettering Chris Weinke's four consecutive games with a touchdown pass in 2001.

Newton By Ground: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton gained 32 rushing yards on six attempts with a long of 16. He rushed for 706 yards and a team-leading 14 touchdowns on 126 carries this season.

Newton set a franchise record with an average of 5.60 yards per carry, breaking the previous mark of 5.55 yards per attempt by DeAngelo Williams in 2008. The 14 rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback in NFL history and the second most in franchise annals behind the team record of 18 by Williams in 2008. Additionally, his rushing yardage and rushing touchdown totals are the most in a season by a Panthers quarterback, eclipsing the previous highs of 128 yards and six touchdowns by Chris Weinke in 2001.

Newton's 35 combined touchdowns (21 passing, 14 rushing) are the most by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. He had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game eight times, tying the NFL single-season record - previously accomplished by Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots in 1976 and Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002.

Double Trouble: Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined to rush for 132 yards and one touchdown on 16 attempts.

Williams posted 53 yards on seven carries to become the first player in team history to reach 5,000 career rushing yards with 5,047. The six-year veteran achieved the milestone on a two-yard rush in the first quarter.

Williams led the Panthers with 836 yards and seven touchdowns on 155 attempts this season. He ranks as the franchise's all-time leader with 996 rushing attempts, 5,047 rushing yards, 38 rushing touchdowns, 5.07-yard rushing average and 16 games with 100 or more rushing yards. Additionally, Williams is the only player in team history with 1,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards, accumulating 5,047 on the ground and 1,057 through the air.

Stewart compiled a team-high 79 yards on nine carries with a 29-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He ranked second on the team with 761 yards and four touchdowns on 142 attempts this season.

The fourth-year running back is second in team history with 3,500 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns, 4.83-yard rushing average and nine games with 100 or more rushing yards. Stewart also stands third with 725 rushing attempts.

Stewart Catches On: Running back Jonathan Stewart caught two passes out of the backfield for seven yards to set team records for the most catches and receiving yards in a season by a running back. He finished the season second on the team with a career-high 47 receptions and 413 receiving yards and one touchdown, bettering the previous highs of 45 catches and 394 receiving yards by Nick Goings in 2004.

What A Rush: Behind an offensive line featuring Jordan Gross at left tackle, Travelle Wharton at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Geoff Hangartner at right guard and Byron Bell at right tackle, the Panthers accumulated 164 yards rushing on 24 attempts - an average of 6.8 yards per carry - with one touchdown against the Saints.

The front five helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in a franchise-record 14 consecutive games. The Panthers exceeded 100 yards on the ground with 107 versus Jacksonville (9/25/11), 169 at Chicago (10/2/11), 162 versus New Orleans (10/9/11), 139 at Atlanta (10/16/11), 175 versus Washington (10/23/11), 140 versus Minnesota (10/30/11), 113 versus Tennessee (11/13/11), 137 at Detroit (11/20/11), 201 at Indianapolis (11/27/11), 163 at Tampa Bay (12/4/11), 157 versus Atlanta (12/11/11), 166 at Houston (12/18/11) and a season high 270 versus Tampa Bay (12/24/11) in addition to the 164 at New Orleans.

The Panthers averaged 150.5 yards per game and set team records with an average of 5.41 yards per attempt and 139 rushing first downs this season. They broke the previous marks of 4.84 yards per carry in 2008 and 123 rushing first downs in 2009. The 26 rushing touchdowns rate as the second most in franchise history behind the team-record 30 in 2008, and the 2,408 rushing yards stand as the third most behind the team-record 2,498 in 2009 and 2,437 in 2008.

In the process, Carolina became the first team in NFL history to have three players with 700 or more yards rushing in the same season: running back DeAngelo Williams with 836, running back Jonathan Stewart with 761 and quarterback Cam Newton with 706. The last team to feature three players with 600 yards or more rushing in a single season was the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 with running backs Warrick Dunn (1,140) and Jerious Norwood (633) and quarterback Michael Vick (1,039).

Streaking: Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished with three receptions for 18 yards and has caught a pass in all 136 regular season games he has played. Smith, meanwhile, has made a catch in a team-record 75 consecutive games. He also produced a catch in 52 consecutive games from 2002-06, the third-longest streak in team history.

Dynamic Duo: Tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey combined for three receptions and 18 yards. Olsen ranked third on the team with 45 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns this season, while Shockey was fifth with 37 receptions for 455 yards and four touchdowns. Along with Richie Brockel, they combined to catch 85 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. That represents the most productive season by a set of Panthers tight ends in team history in terms of receptions and yardage, ahead of the 1999 group that tallied 69 catches, 873 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Big Plays, Long Drives: The Panthers continued their ability to create big plays, gains of 20 or more yards. Carolina produced three more against New Orleans on two runs and one pass. The Panthers generated 89 big plays - 15 of which were touchdowns - on 65 passes and 24 runs this season.

Carolina also began the game with 21 touchdown drives of 80-plus yards this season. The Panthers manufactured two more against the Saints: an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the first quarter that was capped by a 12-yard pass from quarterback Cam Newton to wide receiver Steve Smith and a five-play, 80-yard drive in the final two minutes of the first half that was culminated by a 29-yard run by running back Jonathan Stewart.

In The Zone: The Panthers posted a 50 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring one touchdown and turning the ball over once on two trips inside the Saints' 20-yard line. Carolina was successful on 47-of-57 red zone opportunities, scoring 33 touchdowns and 14 field goals for an 82.5 percent conversion rate and 57.9 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.

Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced one turnover on an interception by cornerback R.J. Stanford, who returned his first career pick 53 yards in the second quarter. The Panthers turned it over twice on one fumble and one interception to finish with a minus-one turnover ratio. The one takeaway resulted in three points for Carolina, and the two giveaways led to no points for New Orleans.

The Panthers concluded the season with a plus-one turnover ratio on 24 takeaways and 23 giveaways. They compiled a 6-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-5 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-5 record when having a negative turnover margin.

Carolina fumbled just 13 times and only lost six fumbles to set team records for the fewest fumbles and fumbles lost in a season, bettering the previous marks of 19 fumbles in 2009 and seven fumbles lost in 2008. The 23 turnovers (17 interceptions and 6 fumbles) represent the second fewest in team history behind the record low of 19 in 2008.

Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers did not collect any sacks against New Orleans. During the 2011 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, donated $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina recorded. The Panthers' 31 sacks, including a team-leading nine by defensive end Charles Johnson, raised $3,100.

The Specialists: Kicker Olindo Mare connected on both of his extra-point chances and his only field goal attempt - converting from 41 yards. He was successful on 44-of-45 extra point opportunities and 22-of-28 field goal attempts for a team-leading 110 points this season. Mare ranks 14th in NFL history with 350 made field goals and 16th with 1,530 points scored.

Mare reached the end zone on all four of his kickoffs with two touchbacks, helping limit the Saints to an average kickoff drive start of the 19-yard line. Mare placed 75-of-84 kickoffs in the end zone with 53 touchbacks this season. Since 1997, Mare leads the league with 291 touchbacks.

Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 45.8 yards and net average of 29.5 yards with none inside the 20, one touchback and long of 50 yards on four punts. He finished the season with a gross average of 42.7 yards and net average of 34.1 yards with 19 punts inside the 20, five touchbacks and long of 56 yards on 66 punts. The 66 punts represent the third fewest in team history behind the record low of 64 punts in 2000 and 65 punts in 1999.

Baker is the Panthers' all-time leader with 570 punts and 169 punts inside the 20. He ranks second with a 43.97-yard gross punting average behind Todd Sauerbrun's 45.54 average.

Return Policy: Rookie Kealoha Pilares returned two kickoffs for 37 yards with a long of 20 yards. He averaged 25.65 yards with a 101-yard touchdown on 23 returns this season. Pilares' 25.65-yard average is the third highest in team history behind Michael Bates' team-record 30.24-yard average in 1996 and 27.26-yard average in 1997.

Wide receiver Armanti Edwards did not have any punt returns as the Saints downed their only punt. He averaged 5.5 yards with a long of 17 yards and nine fair catches on 32 returns this season.

Flagged: The Panthers were penalized just once for five yards, drawing a flag for an illegal formation on their first possession of the game. The one penalty matches their second fewest in a game, previously achieved versus St. Louis (12/3/00), and the five penalty yards are the second fewest in a game. The team records for fewest penalties and penalty yards are zero, achieved versus Green Bay (12/14/97).

Carolina was penalized 113 times for 1,013 yards this season. The 113 penalties equal the third most in team history, previously accomplished in 1998, and the 1,013 yards penalized are the second most in franchise annals behind the team record of 1,020 yards in 2004.

Inactives: The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: center Jeff Byers, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, linebacker Omar Gaither, defensive end Charles Johnson, kicker Adi Kunalic, defensive tackle Andre Neblett and safety Jordan Pugh.

Fleur-de-Lis: New Orleans' 617 total net yards (208 rushing and 409 passing) are the most ever given up by Carolina. The previous high was 495 yards by Detroit (11/20/11)...The Saints' 409 net passing yards are the most ever surrendered by the Panthers. The previous high was 395 by St. Louis (11/15/00)...New Orleans' 33 first downs (10 rushing and 23 passing) are the most ever allowed by Carolina. The previous high was 29 by Detroit (11/20/11)...The Saints' 23 passing first downs are the most ever yielded by the Panthers. The previous high was 21 by Green Bay (9/27/98)...New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdowns to equal the record for the most touchdown passes by an opposing quarterback against the Panthers, previously accomplished three times - most recently by Matthew Stafford for Detroit (11/20/11)...The Saints punted just once, equaling the second fewest punts by an opponent in a game, previously accomplished nine times - most recently by Tampa Bay (12/24/11).