CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Ricky Williams ran for a one-yard touchdown on the game's final play Sunday as the New Orleans Saints squandered a big lead before rallying for a 27-25 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
In the previous meeting between the teams here on Nov. 12, Williams suffered a fractured left ankle late in the fourth quarter of the Saints' 20-10 victory. The injury forced the former Heisman Trophy winner to miss the final six regular season games and a playoff contest.
On Sunday, it did not look like the Saints (3-1) would need Williams to play the role of hero after building a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But the Panthers were able to rally and took a 25-20 lead with 1:48 remaining when rookie Steve Smith returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown.
Aaron Brooks, however, was able to lead the Saints on a 13-play, 82-yard drive for the winning score. Brooks kept the march alive with a 14-yard completion to Willie Jackson on fourth and 10 that moved the ball to the Carolina 41.
Brooks also found Joe Horn for 22 yards, moving the ball to the five. The Saints then turned to Williams on the game's final play, despite not having a timeout.
On second-and-goal from the one with one second remaining, Brooks handed to Williams, who went around the left side untouched to give New Orleans a dramatic victory. Williams finished with 147 yards on 31 attempts.
The final drive also helped Brooks atone for a rough afternoon in which he went just 14 of 40 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also carried seven times for 49 yards.
Rookie Chris Weinke was 21 of 39 for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Panthers, who have lost four straight following a season-opening victory at Minnesota.