"I'm proud of the way our guys fought," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "The momentum swing in the second half and we were battling a lot. It's an important win for us and obviously an exciting one."
Brees completed 32 of 43 passes for 359 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a 100.1 passer rating.
Newton completed 16 of 31 passes for 224 yards, two interceptions and one interception for an 83.0 passer rating.
Darren Sproles led Saints rushers with 11 carries for 51 yards and power runner Mark Ingram bulled his way for 32 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries.
DeAngelo Williams carried 9 times for 129 yards including a 69-yard touchdown. Newton carried 7 times for 27 yards and a touchdown.
For the third straight game, tight end Jimmy Graham went over 100 yards receiving with eight catches for129 yards. Marques Colston added five catches for 69 yards.
The Saints defense saved the win, allowing the Panthers to reach only midfield before Newton's desperation throw downfield fell incomplete for the game's final play.
Saints kicker John Kasay, who was with the Panthers in 1995 and stayed with them until this season, kicked three field goals in his return to Charlotte.
Brees threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jed Collins and has extended his streak of throwing with a touchdown pass in a game, to 32 straight. His steak is third on the all-time NFL list and is four games away from Brett Favre, who is second with 36 straight games.
"We've said the same thing after four losses this year," Panthers tight end Greg Olsen told the media after the game. "We could've won. We should've won. But at the end of the day we didn't and that's all that counts in this league.
"You don't get points for how much you lose by. We've got to find a way to win the game at the end."
The game almost had a a fight when Newton hit Steve Smith for a 54-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Smith jumped to beat cornerback Jabari Greer on the pass, knocking Greer to the ground and giving Smith an easy 30-yard run to the end zone.
As Smith coasted the final five yards to the end zone, safety Roman Harper ran in and and leveled Smith with a hard hit. Smith jumped up while players from both sides ran down and began shoving each other. Smith then locked up with Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, shoving him to the ground and standing over him while hold a firm grip on his facemask before the scuffle finally ended.
Harper's late hit was the only penalty called.
This day the student remained a student, but a fast-learning, good one who has run for five touchdowns.
by Ed Staton
(Visit Louisiana Sports Talk.com to order your LSU and Saints shirts and treasures.)
VIDEO OF SAINTS-HOUSTON
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