The Carolina Panthers won the coin toss and chose to receive to kick off the 2012 season finale at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Panthers were able to strike first after both teams were forced to punt on their opening possessions. QB Cam Newton led a 15-play, 76 yard, drive that took Carolina all the way down to the New Orleans two-yard line. The Saints defense stepped up with their backs at the endzone and forced a Carolina field goal attempt. K Graham Gano booted the 20-yard try through the uprights and gave the Panthers an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter.
Neither team was able to score for the remainder of the period and the Panthers took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter.
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