NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- As Stephen Davis goes, so go the Carolina
Panthers. And boy, was Davis going on Sunday.
Davis, who was held to 20 yards on 11 carries in the Panthers'
loss to Tennessee last week, was back in form Sunday. He rushed for
178 yards and two touchdowns as Carolina beat the New Orleans
Saints 23-20 in overtime.
Question on the Panthers: Are you impressed with the OT wins or are they living too dangerously?
I'm very impressed with their overtime victories. This was a huge victory for the Panthers. They proved they had the ability to come back and win and received a huge game from RB Stephen Davis.
Question on the Saints: Did this loss kill the Saints' chance to get back in the divisional race?
Yes, this loss has all but ended the Saints' chances at a divisional title. They've lost two games to the division-leading Panthers and still have to play the Bucs. The best they can hope for is a chance to play spoiler against the Bucs.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
"We gave them a heavy dose of Stephen," said Carolina coach
John Fox. "He started fast and finished fast."
Davis has rushed for more than 100 yards five times this season,
including 159 in Carolina's first game against the Saints. His
teams are 19-4 when he breaks 100.
Davis had a key 34-yard run in overtime Sunday to set up John
Kasay's 31-yard field goal for the victory that kept the Panthers
atop the NFC South.
"He is a great running back and he had a few long runs today,"
Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "They do a great job in the running
game and that is the thing you have to stop."
The Panthers (6-1), who have led the division since the opening
week, rallied in the closing minutes -- only to see the Saints come
back to force overtime.
"Things were not going our way," Carolina quarterback Jake
Delhomme said. "I couldn't get a rhythm, but we could run."
Carolina staged a 58-yard drive, fueled by two pass interference
calls and capped by Davis' second touchdown, a 1-yard dive that put
Carolina up 20-17 with 3:45 left.
The Saints (3-5) tied it on a 42-yard field goal by John Carney
with 36 seconds to go.
New Orleans won the coin toss in overtime and drove to the
Carolina 37 before Deuce McAllister fumbled on fourth-and-1. Then
Carolina went 50 yards, with Davis breaking free for 33, and Kasay
hit his third field goal of the game.
"We stayed with what we do best," Davis said. "That's running
Carolina's loss last week to Tennessee snapped a seven-game
winning streak dating to last season. The Panthers' 10-1 record
over the previous 11 games had been the best in the NFL.
Former Saints quarterback Delhomme completed 12 of 27 passes for
148 yards for Carolina. Steve Smith had nine catches for 100 yards.
McAllister had 101 yards rushing for the Saints on 26 carries.
Joe Horn had 74 yards and two touchdowns.
It was a typical game for the Panthers and Saints, tight and
with defense dominating. Five of the six games between the teams
the last three seasons have been decided by a touchdown or less. It
was the sixth straight meeting decided in the last two minutes or
Carolina took a 3-0 lead on Kasay's 24-yard field goal in the
first quarter. And when Aaron Brooks dropped the football behind
his back while trying to pass, Dan Morgan recovered, setting up
Carolina on the Saints 25. Delhomme completed his first pass of the
game, a 22-yarder to Kris Mangum, and two plays later Davis dived
over the middle to make it 10-0.
The Saints, after generating just 13 yards in the first quarter,
put together a 72-yard drive, capped by a 14-yard pass to Horn to
cut the Panthers' lead to 10-7.
New Orleans took the lead with 1:17 left in the half when Brooks
hit Horn again in the end zone, this time a 23-yarder.
Carolina opened the third quarter with a 29-yard field goal by
^Notes:@ Davis, who had 108 of his 178 yards at halftime, tied a
team record with his fifth 100-yard game of the season. ...
McAllister's fifth straight 100-yard performance tied a club record
set in 2000 by Ricky Williams. ... Panthers OL Tutan Reyes blocked
for McAllister when they were teammates at Mississippi ... Horn,
with catches in 70 straight NFL games, has at least one reception
in all 56 games he has played with New Orleans. ... Horn, a former
high school quarterback, also threw a 14-yard completion to WR
Jerome Pathon on the 72-yard New Orleans scoring drive in the