Saints 34, Panthers 24

-- Donte Stallworth stood alone on the sideline, a look of defeat on his face. He had just dropped another pass, this one in the end zone, and he was certain his quarterback would stop looking to him.

Instead, Aaron Brooks gave the rookie a pep talk, then completed a 95-yard drive by throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to Stallworth with 31 seconds left for the winning score in the New Orleans Saints' 34-24 victory today over the Carolina Panthers.

"He was feeling down, so I went over there and put my arm around him and told him not to worry about it," Brooks said. "The more he tried to fight it, the worse it was going to get. So I told him to forget it and I'd look for him again later."

The touchdown put the Saints ahead 27-24, and Charles Grant added the clincher by returning Rodney Peete's fumble 34 yards for the score as time ran out.

The Saints (7-2) matched their best start since 1992 with their fifth straight victory over Carolina (3-6).

The Panthers have lost six straight, but five of those losses have come in the final four minutes.

"It's almost becoming like Groundhog Day," said first-year coach John Fox. "We've had it happen more than enough this year."