NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Drew Brees passed for 465 yards and four touchdowns, Will Lutz kicked a 52-yard field goal with 11 seconds left, and the New Orleans Saints pulled out a 41-38 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
With his 15th 400-yard game, Brees broke a tie with Peyton Manning for the most all time in the regular season.
Brees also led the Saints (2-3) to a second straight victory while Carolina lost its fourth straight despite the return of quarterback Cam Newton, who missed last week’s loss to Tampa Bay because of a concussion.
Newton passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 2-yard score and threw a 2-point conversion to Devin Funchess that tied the game at 38 with 2:58 left, and completed a comeback from an early 21-0 deficit.
However, he was also intercepted by Sterling Moore in the back of the end zone, stalling a promising drive in the first half – a turnover that came back to haunt the defending NFC champions.
Tight end Josh Hill scored the Saints’ final TD on a difficult, leaping 8-yard catch that was initially ruled incomplete. But coach Sean Payton challenged the call and officials ruled on review that Hill had possession long enough for a completion before the ball was knocked from his grasp.
Coby Fleener ran for a 2-yard touchdown on his first career carry – an end-around on a fourth-and-1 play that capped New Orleans’ opening drive. He also caught a 50-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and finished with six catches for 74 yards.
Saints receiver Brandin Cooks had an 87-yard touchdown catch to highlight his career-high 173-yard outing on seven catches. Saints rookie Michael Thomas caught his third touchdown pass in as many games.
Funchess and tight end Ed Dickson each caught touchdown passes for Carolina (1-5).
The Saints were flagged for pass interference three times at or near the goal line, and the Panthers cashed in all three times with touchdowns. In all, New Orleans had 10 penalties for 126 yards.
BACK IN ACTION
Newton was among several regulars from both teams returning from absences of one or more games. His teammate, running back Jonathan Stewart, returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury and rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries, including two short touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Saints tight end Hill played for the first time since injuring his ankle in Week 1, while guard Senio Kelemete (hamstring) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (quadriceps) returned from one-game absences.
Saints left tackle Andrus Peat, who was filling in for injured starter Terron Armstead, left the game late in the first half with an apparent left leg injury. He was replaced by veteran Tony Hills. … Saints rookie defensive tackle David Onyemata also appeared to have a leg injury after a pileup near the New Orleans goal line in the fourth quarter and gingerly walked off the field. … Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley was evaluated for a possible concussion.
Panthers: Carolina has a bye week to try to figure out how to reverse its sinking fortunes.
Saints: New Orleans travels to Kansas City next Sunday.