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Saints fans cranky as Panthers win fourth straight

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- John Kasay wasn't interested in the record,
he was focused on the outcome.

Kasay kept the Carolina Panthers' late run for a playoff berth
on track with six field goals Sunday in a 32-21 victory over the
New Orleans Saints.

"If you know me, you'd know I really don't play for records,"
Kasay said. "But we really needed the win. That's the important
thing."

It was the Panthers' fourth victory in a row and, in the weak
NFC, their 5-7 record has them in the middle of the wild-card race.

The Saints (4-8) have lost three straight and seven of their last
nine games. Some of the few fans remaining by the end of the game
chanted "Fire Haslett" as the clock wound down, referring to
beleaguered coach Jim Haslett.

The Panthers have shaken off the loss of 14 players to injuries.
The defending NFC champions put the game out of reach early and
stopped the Saints' second-half effort with two interceptions,
including one on the Carolina 11-yard line.

"We've become a new football team," Carolina coach John Fox
said. "We have a lot of new faces in there that are starting to
come together."

Kasay's six field goals set a Panthers record; he kicked five in
a game twice.

Jake Delhomme, playing with a cast on his broken right thumb,
completed 22 of 29 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown, making him
the first Carolina quarterback to throw 20 touchdown passes in a
season since Steve Beuerlein tossed 36 in 1999.

"We're starting to find ourselves," Delhomme said. "We're
doing some good things. We just have to keep it going."

Nick Goings rushed for 122 yards on 36 carries and Muhsin
Muhammad had 10 receptions for 179 yards against the NFL's worst
defense. The Saints are the only team to allow more than 400 yards
per game (418.3) and Carolina gained 401. New Orleans has not held
an opponent under 20 points in any game this season.

The offense is no better. New Orleans has not scored in the
first quarter since Sept. 19. Against Carolina, it did not make a
first down until the 2-minute warning in the first half.

The Saints had 280 yards in total offense, but only 74 yards in
the first half.

"The first half was bad, ugly football," Haslett said. "The
second half we came out and moved the ball and rallied a little.
But that was bad football."

Aaron Brooks completed 20 of 40 attempts for 251 yards and three
touchdowns. Joe Horn had eight catches for 160 yards, giving him a
1,000-yard season for the fourth time in the last five years.

Deuce McAllister rushed for only 22 yards on seven carries, his
lowest yardage of the season, except for the San Francisco game
where he was injured on the third play.

The Saints fell behind in the first quarter for the 11th straight
game. Kasay capped the opening drive with a 30-yard field goal,
then added a 50 yarder.

Kindal Moorehead then recovered McAllister's fumble on the New
Orleans 10 and Delhomme connected with Muhammad for a 10-yard TD.

Goings rushed for a 6-yard touchdown to open the second quarter.
The 75-yard drive was fueled by a 51-yard reception by Muhammad.

Even when the Saints appeared to get a break, they spoiled it.

Mike McKenzie picked off a pass and returned it for 34 yards,
only to be flagged for holding prior to the interception. Two plays
later, defensive end Charles Grant drew a personal foul. Five plays
after that, Kasay kicked a 46-yard field goal to make it 23-0.

"If you're going to blame somebody, blame everybody," Grant
said. "Blame me, blame the coach, blame the defensive linemen, the
defensive backs, the special teams. Blame everybody in the
organization."

The Saints finally found the end zone with 1:38 left in the
first half when Brooks hit Horn with a 13-yard pass.

But Kasay's 25-yard field goal made it 26-7 at halftime.

The Saints scored on a 24-yard reception by Horn, then Kasay hit
a pair of 21-yard field goals in the fourth quarter. Brooks hit
Donte' Stallworth for a 25-yard touchdown with 39 seconds
remaining.

Game notes
Carolina's defense has forced 15 turnovers and has 11 sacks
in the past four weeks, including one sack and two interceptions
Sunday. ... Horn has caught at least one pass in 89 consecutive NFL
games. ... Steve Gleason of the Saints was ejected for punching
Carolina DE Kemp Rasmussen.