NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Cam Newton passed for five touchdowns, capped by a 15-yard scoring strike to Jerricho Cotchery with 1:05 to go, and the unbeaten Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South with a 41-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Carolina, the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, has the ninth 12-0 start in league history.
Newton, who was 28 of 41 for 331 yards, twice had to lead the Panthers back from fourth-quarter deficits as the Saints (4-8) tried desperately to avoid a four-game losing streak. Jonathan Stewart had a 5-yard scoring run on a pitch from Newton.
Drew Brees passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony returned a fumble 31 yards for a score and also became the first NFL player to return a blocked extra-point kick for 2 points in NFL history.
THE HIGHEST PAID PLAYER ON EVERY NFL TEAM: