National Football League
               === Brees throws 4 TDs as Saints rout Panthers ===
 New  Orleans,  LA ( -  A trip back  into the comforts of its
 own dome was exactly what New Orleans needed.
 Drew  Brees surgically  picked apart the Carolina Panthers' top-ranked defense
 and  the Saints drew first blood in the first of two critical meetings between
 the NFC South squads in three weeks.
 Brees tossed four touchdown passes and the Saints snapped the Panthers' eight-
 game  winning  streak and regained  solo possession of  first place in the NFC
 South with a 31-13 victory.
 Brees  was stymied  to 147  yards  passing in  the  Saints' 34-7  loss to  the
 Seahawks  in  Seattle on  Monday night,  but he responded  by throwing for 313
 yards on 30-of-42 efficiency against the Panthers.
 New  Orleans tallied three touchdowns in the second quarter against a Carolina
 defense  that hadn't allowed more than two in a single game this season. Brees
 was 14-of-16 for 159 yards in the frame.
 The Panthers' defense came in allowing just 13.1 points per game.
 Brees  became  the fastest  player --  fifth player overall  -- to eclipse the
 50,000-yard passing mark in the triumph.
 Marques  Colston had nine receptions for 125 yards and two scores, while Jimmy
 Graham  added a pair  of TD catches for the Saints (10-3), who moved to 7-0 at
 the Superdome this year and will travel to Carolina in two weeks.
 "We  just had  great balance,"  Brees said.  "Marques came  up with  some huge
 catches, as did Jimmy."
 Junior Galette notched three of the Saints' five sacks.
 Cam  Newton completed  22-of-34  passes  for 160  yards  and  a touchdown  for
 Carolina  (9-4), which  hadn't  tasted  defeat since  falling  to the  Arizona
 Cardinals 22-6 in Glendale on Oct. 6.
 "We're  a  better team than  we played today,"  Panthers head coach Ron Rivera
 said. "We'll see how things go when they come to Carolina."
 The Panthers totaled 74 yards on their opening two drives of the game and held
 the ball for 11:30 in the first quarter, but had to settle for a pair of field
 Newton  picked up a trio of third downs on the initial series. He threw an 11-
 yard  completion  to Brandon LaFell on  a 3rd-and-2, scrambled for 19 yards on
 the  ensuing 3rd-and-6 and  hit Steve Smith for an 11-yard pass play on a 3rd-
 Galette,  though, sacked  Newton  on the  next third  down,  a 3rd-and-4,  and
 Graham  Gano  nailed a 45-yard field  goal. Following a New Orleans three-and-
 out, Ted Ginn's 32-yard punt return led to a 24-yard Gano boot.
 Carolina tallied just 17 yards of offense over the remainder of the first half
 and the Saints surged ahead with 21 unanswered points in the second.
 Brees  flipped  a 21-yard  completion  to  Colston to  move  the  chains on  a
 3rd-and-9  before  Darren Sproles  broke  off  a  38-yard  run down  the  left
 sideline.  Brees  capped the 9-play, 80-yard  march when he tossed a 6-yard TD
 pass to Colston early in the second.
 Following  a Carolina punt, Brees and the Saints offense matriculated the ball
 86 yards in 11 plays as Colston hauled in a 15-yard TD reception to finish off
 the trek with 2:44 left in the half.
 The  Panthers  then went  three-and-out  and  the  Saints swiftly  moved  into
 Carolina territory in just two plays.
 Starting at the 24 with 2:01 on the clock, Brees hit Lance Moore for a 21-yard
 gain  and  Colston for 19 more  to move the  ball to the Panthers' 36. Sproles
 then navigated his way for 20 more yards on a screen before Brees found Graham
 for  a 5-yard  score three plays later  with 18 ticks left and help the Saints
 take a 21-6 advantage into the break.
 After  Gano  sailed a  49-yard  field  goal  wide  right on  Carolina's  first
 possession  of the second  half, the Saints put three more points on the board
 when   Garrett  Hartley   split  the  uprights  from  19  yards  out.  Colston
 initially  hauled  in  an  11-yard  TD  pass,  but  the  call  was  overturned
 following  a review  and  the  stingy Panthers  defense  stood  strong as  New
 Orleans  had  three opportunities to punch the ball in from the 1-yard line.
 Graham  caught an 8-yard TD pass early in the fourth to make it 31-6 and Steve
 Smith's 17-yard TD catch with 5:15 left capped the scoring.
                                   Game Notes
 New Orleans was 7-of-12 on third down, while Carolina finished 6-of-15 ... The
 Saints outgained the Panthers, 373-239 ... Brees has 23 touchdown passes and
 just three interceptions this season at the Superdome.
 12/09 01:05:36 ET