The Series: With the 30-27 victory, New Orleans defeated Carolina for the third consecutive time and trails the all-time series 17-16. The Panthers and Saints will conclude the regular season at the Mercedes-Benz Louisiana Superdome on Jan. 1.
For Starters: Omar Gaither made his first start of the season, replacing Jason Williams at weakside linebacker. The sixth-year veteran previously started 36 games for Philadelphia from 2006-10, making 21 starts at middle linebacker and 15 at weakside linebacker.
Cornerback Chris Gamble returned to the lineup after being inactive with a concussion at Chicago (10/2/11). Also in the secondary, cornerback Darius Butler started for the second consecutive game as Carolina opened in a nickel defense.
The Panthers have yet to have the same defensive starting lineup in consecutive games this season, fielding a different starting group in all five contests.
Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 16-of-31 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with one interception to produce an 83.3 quarterback rating. He threw touchdown passes of 54 yards to wide receiver Steve Smith in the first quarter and five yards to tight end Greg Olsen in the fourth quarter - his third consecutive game with a touchdown catch.
The starter in all five games this season, Newton has completed 113-of-194 passes for 1,610 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions to compile an 84.4 quarterback rating. He has thrown a touchdown in all five games - the longest streak by a rookie quarterback in team history - surpassing Chris Weinke's four consecutive games with a touchdown pass in 2001.
Newton By Ground: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton posted 27 rushing yards and one touchdown on seven attempts, scoring on a one-yard dive up the middle in the third quarter. He has rushed for 160 yards and five touchdowns on 40 carries this season. Newton is the first player in NFL history with a least five passing and five rushing touchdowns in the first five games of their career.
The 160 rushing yards are the most in a season by a Panthers quarterback, exceeding the previous high of 128 yards by Chris Weinke in 2001, and the five rushing touchdowns are the second most in a season by a Carolina quarterback behind Weinke's six in 2001.
Williams Carries The Load: Running back DeAngelo Williams tallied a team-high 115 yards and one touchdown on nine carries to compile his 16th career 100-yard rushing effort. He equaled his career long with a 69-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, previously accomplished at Oakland (11/9/08). Williams' longest run is a team-record 77-yard scamper at Arizona (11/1/09).
In his last four games against the Saints, Williams has accumulated 528 yards and four touchdowns on 68 rushes, an average of 132 yards and one touchdown per game and 7.76 yards per carry.
Williams leads the Panthers with 258 yards and one touchdown on 46 attempts this season. He ranks as the franchise's all-time leader with 887 rushing attempts, 4,469 rushing yards, 32 rushing touchdowns, 5.04-yard rushing average and 16 games with 100 or more rushing yards.
Offensive Line Paves The Way, Provides Protection: 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 Jeff Otah at right tackle, the Panthers generated 162 yards rushing, their second-highest total this year, and two touchdowns on 22 attempts - an average of 7.4 yards per carry. The offensive front allowed one sack, the only sack it has surrendered in the last three games.
On The Receiving End: Wide receiver Legedu Naanee paced Carolina with four receptions for 63 yards, while wide receiver Steve Smith recorded a team-high 79 yards on three catches with a 54-yard touchdown.
Smith leads the Panthers with 27 receptions for 609 yards and three touchdowns this season. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranks first in team history with 63 total touchdowns (55 receiving, 6 return, 2 rush), 55 receiving touchdowns, 9,493 receiving yards, 14.67 receiving average, and 35 games with 100 or more receiving yards. Smith stands second with 647 receptions (needs 50 catches to surpass Muhsin Muhammad for the most in team history) and 380 points scored.
Streaking: Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished the game with three receptions for 21 yards and has caught a pass in all 126 regular season games he has played. Smith, meanwhile, has made a catch in 64 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in team history behind Wesley Walls' 70 games from 1996-2001 and his own 68 games from 2002-06.
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced one turnover. Safety Sherrod Martin swiped his team-leading second interception of the season in the third quarter when he grabbed a Drew Brees pass that went off the hands of tight end Jimmy Graham. The Panthers turned it over once on an interception to finish with an even turnover ratio. The one takeaway resulted in seven points for Carolina, and the one giveaway led to seven points for New Orleans. The Panthers have a negative-two turnover ratio this season, compiling a 1-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-3 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-1 record when having a negative turnover margin.
Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected two sacks against New Orleans. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn registered his first career sack when he took down Saints quarterback Drew Brees for a six-yard loss on a blitz in the second quarter. Later on the same drive, defensive end Greg Hardy corralled Brees for a 10-yard loss and ranks second on the team with three sacks this year.
During the 2011 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, is donating $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina records. Through five games, the Panthers have gathered eight sacks, raising $800.
The Specialists: Kicker Olindo Mare connected on three of his four extra-point chances. He had a streak of 212 consecutive extra points snapped when Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson blocked his attempt following the Panthers' touchdown in the first quarter. Mare last missed a point-after-touchdown at Dallas (11/27/03), and the Panthers last missed a point-after-touchdown versus Minnesota 12/20/09.
He has been successful on 10-of-11 extra point opportunities and eight-of-10 field goal attempts for a team-leading 34 points this season. Mare is tied for 15th in NFL history with 336 made field goals and ranks 18th with 1,454 points scored.
Mare reached the end zone on all five of his kickoffs with five touchbacks. He has placed 20-of-26 kickoffs in the end zone with 15 touchbacks this season. Since 1997, Mare leads the NFL with 253 touchbacks.
Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 44.0 yards and net average of 44.0 yards with two inside the 20, no touchbacks and long of 53 yards on three punts. His gross average increased to 40.1 yards and his net average improved to 29.0 yards with seven punts inside the 20, four touchbacks and long of 56 yards this season.
Baker is the Panthers' all-time leader with 526 punts and 157 punts inside the 20 and ranks second with a 43.97-yard gross punting average.
Rookie wide receiver Kealoha Pilares played in his second game and returned kickoffs with running back Mike Goodson inactive. He averaged 18.0 yards with a long of 21 yards on two returns. Wide receiver Armanti Edwards returned one punt for nine yards and is averaging 5.7 yards with a long of 14 yards on 13 returns this season.
Inactives: The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: quarterback Jimmy Clausen, running back Mike Goodson, defensive tackle Frank Kearse, defensive tackle Andre Neblett, cornerback Josh Thomas, linebacker Thomas Williams, and tackle Lee Ziemba.
Fleur-de-Lis: The Saints' 27 first downs (six rushing, 20 passing and one penalty) equaled the second most ever allowed by Carolina, previously accomplished seven times - most recently by New Orleans (11/7/10). The most first downs allowed by the Panthers is 28 at Oakland (12/24/00)...The Saints' 20 passing first downs matched the second most ever allowed by Carolina, previously accomplished three times - most recently versus Arizona (10/19/08). The most passing first downs allowed by the Panthers is 21 versus Green Bay (9/27/98).