Alvin Kamara had 103 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, the Saints’ defense put the clamps on Cam Newton and New Orleans defeated the Carolina Panthers 12-9 on Monday night to take a big step toward locking up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, center right, celebrates with Chris Manhertz (82) after their touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, center right, celebrates with Chris Manhertz (82) after their touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

New Orleans’ defense, which has been among the best in the league the last six weeks, held Newton to 131 yards passing, sacked him four times and forced two turnovers.

Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (22) evades a tackle by New Orleans Saints' A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (22) evades a tackle by New Orleans Saints’ A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
New Orleans Saints' Mark Ingram (22) runs against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
New Orleans Saints’ Mark Ingram (22) runs against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Carolina’s only scores came off a trick play on fourth down — a 50-yard touchdown pass from Christian McCaffrey to Chris Manhertz — and an interception return by Donte Jackson on a 2-point conversion attempt.

Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly, top left, leaps over the line to sack New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly, top left, leaps over the line to sack New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Carolina was held to 247 yards and 13 first downs.

Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (22) runs past New Orleans Saints' A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (22) runs past New Orleans Saints’ A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
New Orleans Saints' Alvin Kamara (41) is tackled by Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara (41) is tackled by Carolina Panthers’ Kawann Short (99) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

Drew Brees had 203 yards passing for the Saints (12-2), who took a one-game lead in the NFC over the Rams.

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) scrambles as New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis (56) pursues in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton (1) scrambles as New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis (56) pursues in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

The Panthers have lost six straight after a 6-2 start.

New Orleans Saints' Demario Davis (56) celebrates his sack of Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, left, in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis (56) celebrates his sack of Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, left, in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

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New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees (9) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (9) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

Source: The Associated Press