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Saints steamroll Panthers to establish NFC South lead

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Drew Brees passed 50,000 career passing yards as the veteran quarterback helped guide the New Orleans Saints to a crucial 31-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Both sides went into the game with identical records and had the NFC South lead in their sights, but it was the Saints who grabbed it for themselves and also claimed the advantage in the race to claim the 2nd seed spot in the NFC divisional round.

After a season-low 147 yards against the Seattle Seahawks the week before, Brees bounced back with an impressive four touchdown throws and 313 yards to guide the Saints to victory.

Early on it was the Panthers who had the upper hand, although in the 1st quarter they couldn't convert their dominance into touchdowns.

Instead they had to make do with two field goals to secure a 6-0 lead - the only time in the game that they were in the lead.

The Saints (now 10-3) roared back in the second quarter with 21 unanswered points as Brees came to the fore. No team had scored more than 24 points against a mean Panthers defines all season; the Saints almost managed to do that in 15 minutes.

Marques Colston has not enjoyed the best of seasons but came to life against the Panthers, claiming nine catches for 125 yards and the Saints first two touchdowns.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton struggled to get into the game and was sacked five times, while also only throwing 160 yards all game - his lowest tally of the season.

Tight-end Jimmy Graham bagged his 13th and 14th touchdowns of the season - one in the 2nd quarter, one in the 4th - and in the process helped to break a single-day record as he completed the 88th touchdown of the day.

The Panthers (now 9-4) claimed a late consolation as Steve Smith caught a 17-yard pass from Newton, but that was about all there was to cheer for the visitors as the Saints reigned supreme in the superdome once more.

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Carolina Panthers
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