The setup: Panthers' ball, first-and-10 from their 34, 8:54 remaining in the second quarter.
What happened: Running back DeAngelo Williams took the handoff from Cam Newton on the right side, and cut back left for a season-long 65-yard run to the Saints' 1.
Why it mattered: On the next play, fullback Mike Tolbert scored on a 1-yard run to increase the Panthers' lead to 10-0.
The setup: Saints faced a third-and-12 from their 18, 13:48 remaining in the third quarter.
What happened: Quarterback Drew Brees heaved a deep pass to Lance Moore, who caught the ball from the turf after getting tangled up with safety D.J. Campbell. The play gained 51 yards to the Panthers' 31.
Why it mattered: Five plays after Moore's reception, Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham on a 18-yard touchdown pass, giving Saints a 24-13 lead.
The setup: Panthers faced a third-and-18 from their 12, 9:31 remaining in the third quarter.
What happened: A play after the Panthers survived a replay review on a fumble by tight end Greg Olsen, Newton threw a long strike down the right sideline for wideout Louis Murphy. Murphy made the catch and tapped both feet inbounds for a 34-yard gain to the 46.
Why it mattered: On the next play, Williams ripped off a 54-yard touchdown run.
The setup: Saints' ball, second-and-8 from their 22, 3:54 remaining in the third quarter.
What happened: Brees looked to his left and targeted Moore. Free safety Charles Godfrey read the play and made a leaping interception, giving the Panthers possession at the Saints' 36.
Why it mattered: The Panthers needed just three plays to score, with Tolbert going in for another 1-yard touchdown run to give them a lead they would not relinquish.
Edwards' punt return
The setup: Saints' ball, fourth-and-10 from their 20, 8:47 left in the fourth quarter.
What happened: Thomas Morstead boomed a 61-yard punt to Armanti Edwards, who found a crease in the middle of the field. Edwards returned it 69 yards before Morstead pushed him out at the Saints' 12.
Why it mattered: On the ensuing play, Williams darted in for a 12-yard touchdown run that pushed the Panthers' lead to 41-24.