CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers scored on a few short drives after first-half mistakes by the New Orleans Saints, and Carolina held on for a 23-20 victory Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.
New Orleans (4-6) didn't take another snap until the 14-second mark at their own 14-yard line after a Carolina punt.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for one touchdown, completing 14 of 33 passes for 192 yards without an interception.
Brees threw two touchdown passes and connected on 35 of 45 throws for 285 yards and one interception.
The outcome came four days after the Panthers squandered a 17-point lead in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Panthers (4-6) won for the third time in four games.
Carolina played the final minutes Thursday night without star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was taken from the field on a cart with 4:41 remaining to be evaluated for a concussion.
Carolina didn't have a sustained drive until opening the third quarter by going 51 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a Graham Gano's 42-yard field goal for a 23-3 advantage.
The Saints' only third-quarter possession included two fourth-down conversions and 16 plays, but they ended with Wil Lutz's 30-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
New Orleans was within 23-13 with 11:22 to play after Brees' 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Coleman, with a four-play drive covering 51 yards.
Saints running back Mark Ingram was placed in concussion protocol after a 13-yard rushing play midway through the third quarter.
The Panthers lost defensive end Mario Addison to a fourth-quarter foot injury.
Carolina held a 20-3 halftime lead with plenty of help from the Saints.
The panthers converted off several New Orleans mistakes, including when Kuechly returned a blocked field goal (by defensive tackle Vernon Butler) into Saints territory. A Kuechly touchdown was wiped out by a penalty, but on the next play, Newton threw 40 yards to receiver Ted Ginn Jr. for a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the half.
Brees had a pair of first-half turnovers and the Panthers scored off those, the latter coming in the second quarter following safety Kurt Coleman's interception. That resulted in running back Jonathan Stewart's tie-breaking 1-yard run and a 10-3 lead.
Another New Orleans blunder helped set up the next points after Marcus Murphy muffed the ensuing kickoff out of bounds at the 1-yard line and the Saints ended up punting from their end zone. Gano drilled a 49-yard field goal.
The game's first possession ended with defensive end Mario Addison sacking Brees, causing a fumble and recovering it. After reaching the New Orleans 1 for first-and-goal, a second-down sack meant the Panthers were set to settle for Gano's 30-yard field goal until a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave them a first down at the 6. Another large loss and Carolina ended up with Gano's 32-yarder.
New Orleans' first-half scoring drive also involved follies, with tight end Coby Fleener catching a third-down pass for a would-be first down inside the Carolina 10 only to fumble and, although recovering the ball, losing the necessary yardage. The Saints ended up with Lutz's 27-yard field goal.
Both teams were coming off devastating losses Sunday. The Saints were primed to go ahead when they lined up for a late extra-point kick against Denver, but the blocked attempt was returned for a winning two-point defensive conversion. The Panthers blew a 17-0 lead against Kansas City, coming unhinged with a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers and losing on a field goal on the game's final play.
NOTES: Carolina had C Ryan Kalil back after missing 2 1/2 games with a shoulder injury, but he left in the second half with more shoulder issues. ... LB Shaq Thompson also returned for the Panthers after he missed most of the past two games, though LB A.J. Klein, who had replaced him, was out with an apparent concussion. ... The Panthers used P Michael Palardy, who was signed earlier in the week, after P Andy Lee suffered a hamstring injury Sunday against Kansas City. ... DT Sheldon Rankins and LB Dannell Ellerbe were among the New Orleans defenders who missed last month's game with Carolina and were available Thursday night. Ellerbe notched a second-quarter sack that knocked the Panthers out of field-goal range. ... The Saints made a late roster moving, signing S Chris Banjo. ... New Orleans is home for its next two games, with the Los Angeles Rams visiting Nov. 27. ... The Panthers play their next two games on the West Coast, beginning Nov. 27 at Oakland.