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Saints outlast Panthers

New Orleans Saints’ Jared Cook

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints put a stranglehold on the NFC South title race with a 34-31 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Kicker Wil Lutz knocked home the game-winning field goal as time expired after the Panthers’ Joey Slye missed a crucial go-ahead field goal with just under two minutes to play – his third missed kick in the game.

With the win, New Orleans (9-2) holds a four-game lead in the division over second place Carolina (5-6) and is in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with the 49ers and Seahawks.

Quarterback Drew Brees completed 30-of-39 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, while Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray combined for 18 carries and 118 yards. Tight end Jared Cook had a big day hauling in six receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Michael Thomas caught 10 passes for 101 yards and a score including a big catch on the game-winning drive.

Linebacker Demario Davis logged 11 total tackles including one sack. The defense as a whole registered four sacks, but struggled to slow down Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who tallied 134 total yards from scrimmage.