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(Sunday, October 3rd)
Final Score: New Orleans 16, Carolina 14
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - John Carney kicked three field goals, including the game-winning 25-yarder with 3:55 left in fourth quarter, as New Orleans escaped with a 16-14 decision over Carolina at the Superdome.
"I'm glad to be a part of this team in any form or fashion. It was an exciting day for all of us," admitted the 46-year-old Carney, who is in the second part of his second stint with the Saints after kicking in 11 games last season for the defending Super Bowl champions. He originally suited up from 2001-06 for New Orleans. "I had a lot of faith and a lot of hope."
Carney, who was signed earlier in the week and activated for the ineffective Garrett Hartley, also hit a pair of 32-yard kicks for the Saints (3-1), who bounced back from last week's overtime loss to Atlanta and head to Arizona next Sunday.
Drew Brees finished 33-of-48 for 275 yards and a touchdown to Lance Moore, while Ladell Betts notched 47 yards on 13 carries in place of the injured Pierre Thomas.
Jimmy Clausen was 11-of-21 for 146 yards and a score for the Panthers (0-4), who hadn't opened up the season with four losses in a row since going 0-7 to start in 1998.
"I think he's going to be a good player. He's young. He's learning," noted Panthers head coach John Fox of Clausen. "This (the Superdome) isn't a real admirable place to be in your second start, but I thought he fought real well."
DeAngelo Williams posted 86 yards, including a 39-yard scoring run, on 13 carries and Jonathan Stewart added a 55-yard TD reception in defeat.
The Saints forged ahead by a 16-14 count inside of four minutes left in the fourth quarter as Carney was able to make a 25-yard attempt from the right hashmark.
His boot capped an 18-play, 86-yard drive which consumed almost 9 1/2 minutes. Brees converted a pair of third downs on the march, the first to David Thomas for six yards on 3rd-and-6 from his own 15, and the second a seven-yard strike to Robert Meachem on 3rd-and-6 from the Carolina 25.
A facemask penalty on the kickoff gave Carolina the ball on its own 28. Stewart picked up a first down with a four-yard run on 3rd-and-2 from the 36, and a review upheld a 16-yard completion to David Gettis on a 4th- and-4 from the 46 with 1:53 to play.
However, a 4th-and-16 at the Saints' 44 with eight seconds to go fell incomplete, and Brees took a knee to run out the remaining time.
"It was a hard fought win. We made just enough plays to get the win and that is what is most important," said Saints head coach Sean Payton. "We got a stop there at the end. The drive at the end coming off the five yard line was significant. Although it wasn't always perfect, it was a good win."
New Orleans coughed up a chance to score on its first drive, as James Anderson scooped up Moore's fumble in the end zone. Moore atoned for his mistake on the Saints' ensuing series when he held on to a Brees pass for a four-yard TD reception on the first play of the second quarter.
Stewart tied the game on the following series when Clausen found him alone on the right sideline for a 55-yard score. It was the first career TD pass for the Notre Dame product.
Anderson recovered another Saints fumble on the next series, as Chris Ivory lost control in Carolina territory, but the Panthers didn't move the ball.
Carney capped the Saints' following drive with a 32-yarder to give the home team a 10-7 edge with 1:13 to play in the half.
Williams broke free down the left sideline for a 39-yard rushing score and 14-10 Panthers edge early in the third.
After the Saints failed to move on their turn, Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn muffed a punt and Courtney Roby recovered for New Orleans on the Carolina 29. The drive stalled inside the 10 and a delay of game penalty pushed Carney's try to 32 yards, but he was good for a 14-13 contest heading to the fourth.
Carolina had won seven of the last nine meetings...New Orleans safety Roman Harper was also inactive...Panthers wideout Steve Smith left the game late in the third quarter with an apparent left leg injury that was later diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, according to NFL.com's Adam Schefter. He did not return after notching just two catches for 11 yards and will be further evaluated on Monday...Saints safeties Pierson Prioleau and Chris Reis also left the game and did not return. Prioleau was felled by a chest injury in the second quarter, and his replacement Reis left with an apparent right shoulder injury.
10/03 20:33:45 ET
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