Panthers beat the Saints 23-20 in OT

``We gave them a heavy dose of Stephen,'' said Carolina coach John Fox. ``He started fast and finished fast.''

NEW ORLEANS -- Stephen Davis was held to 20 yards on 11 carries in the Panthers' loss to Tennessee last week, but Sunday he rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns as Carolina beat the New Orleans Saints 23-20 in overtime.

``We gave them a heavy dose of Stephen,'' said Carolina coach John Fox. ``He started fast and finished fast.''

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. 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.

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.


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