"I expected us to win the football game," Newton said, adding he wasn't pleased by how tight the game got at the end against the reeling Saints (4-8), who've lost four straight. "We've got to find ways moving forward not to put ourselves in this position. This was a wakeup call for us. And moving forward, we know we can't just win games by us showing up."
Newton, who was 28 of 41 for 331 yards, twice had to lead the Panthers back from fourth-quarter deficits.
"That is one of the things that we get out of this that we will certainly build on, that (Newton) was able to win a shootout and take a drive in the fourth quarter to give us a chance," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said after capturing his third successive division title. "It goes back to his whole development as a quarterback in this league. I am really proud of what he did and the confidence with which he played."
Newton was sacked once but hit numerous other times, including on his 10 rushes for 49 yards. Newton was ordered to undergo concussion testing during the third quarter, right after his 13-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. capped a touchdown drive during which he took a heavy hit from linebacker Michael Mauti.
"I was fine. I was even teasing him," Newton said of his interview with a neurologist, adding that officials on the field also checked on him. "The referee did an unbelievable job with making sure I was all right. Numerous times he asked me to look him in his eye just to see if I was focused."
"There were a lot of good things, but still too many of the little things that get you beat," Brees said.
He narrowly pulled it off, finding tight end Greg Olsen for a first down as he rolled left on a fourth-and-4. Olsen had to fall to the field to make a, rolling fingertip grab of the underthrown pass, which was so close to hitting the turf that fans in the Superdome were roaring at replays as Saints coach Sean Payton asked for a review.
Olsen finished with nine catches for 129 yards.
New Orleans' defense produced three turnovers and a touchdown in the first half.
"I even thought the play was over," Anthony said. "I didn't know whether I should keep running or not. I didn't hear a whistle, and I kind of waited, then I kept going."
Early in the second quarter, Carolina cut the lead in half on Mike Tolbert's 12-yard touchdown catch, set up by Newton's 30-yard bootleg on fourth-and-1 a couple plays earlier.
Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press