We can get used to this, right, Panthers fans?
Though it was in front of half-full crowd, was not pretty, and lacking in "SportsCenter" plays, the Panthers took home a victory in their first NFC South divisional game, and beat the Buccaneers, 31-13.
The "New" Cam Newton was efficient as usual, passing 221 yards on 23 completions out of 32 attempts. Though he was hurt by a few drops, Newton did not let it bother him, and accounted for three touchdowns, two by air, one on the ground. DeAngelo Williams joined him in the touchdown party, reaching the end zone on the 12 yard scamper in the 2nd quarter.
"Primetime" came early for the Panthers. On the very first drive, the now "utilized" Mike Tolbert led the way with two receptions to push them into Buccaneers. Newton would then handle the rest. After taking a long sack on a jailbreak blitz, Newton converted a 1st down after being down on 2nd and 22. He ran for a first, then evaded another all out blitz to find Greg Olsen by his lonesome in the endzone. The Panthers started on top, 7-0.
After giving up a field goal to the Buccaneers, the Panthers offense went back to work, bleeding clock in the process. After some powerful runs from Tolbert to get into Tampa Bay territory, Newton threw to Ginn, who collected major yards after the catch. DeAngelo Williams would finish the job and score on a 12-yard touchdown to put the Panthers up 14-3.
Not all was rosy for the Panthers offense in the first half however. Despite Ginn’s incredible production, he made a big gaffe when a deep Newton pass went right through his hands.
The Buccaneers were not without their own mistakes. Though they were able to move the ball efficiently with their rookie quarterback, the Buccaneers hurt themselves by fumbles and low snaps on 3rd downs. However, Tampa Bay would tack on another field goal to bring the halftime score to 14-6.
The second half was not much different than the first. Though they started with a three and out, Newton led the Panthers with his legs this time around. On the second drive of the second half, with great field position, Newton gained 32 yards on the ground to put the pressure on the Buccaneers. This drive was also notable with head coach Ron Rivera going for it yet again on a 4th down situation, this time being a yard out on the Tampa Bay 28 yard line. They thankfully converted, and Newton finished the way with a 6 yard TD run.
The only blemish in the second half for the Panthers was the injury sustained by Charles Johnson when the game was already out of reach. CSR will have updates for you as they become available.
Tampa Bay furiously tried to come back on the arm of Mike Glennon, but the stage seemed too big for the rookie quarterback. With two bobbled snaps, a few overthrows, and sacks by Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, the deficit was just too large for him to overcome. The Panthers would go on to close out the game, winning 31-13, marking the third straight game in which they have scored over 30 and won. They also continued two noteworthy season-long streaks: winning at halftime, and not allowing a first-half touchdown.
The Panthers will look to continue this streaks and their winnings ways when the face the second divisional opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, next week.
With a week and some change of rest, the Carolina Panthers return home for their second divisional game of the year and host the Atlanta Falcons. Though the Falcons have yet to play this week, they will be missing WR Julio Jones and have RB Steven Jackson and WR Roddy White possibly still hobbled from their respective injuries..
Offense: Cam Newton, 23/32, 221 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, 2 passing TD, 1 rushing TD
Defense: Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, 3 combined sacks
Panthers Who Starred
Panthers Who Struggled
Mike Tolbert (when pass blocking), Ted Ginn (when catching deep passes), Captain Munnerlyn