The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended week five in the NFL by basically throwing their practice squads on the field at Bank of America Stadium. The injury reports for both teams rivaled Master’s thesis in length, so the depth of each roster was tested. The Bucs had few runningbacks and even fewer defensive lineman. The Panthers were without starters at QB, HB, LT and CB. The lack of impact players on both sides definitely showed, especially in an excruciatingly painful to watch first half.
The Panthers won the toss and deferred. The Bucs came out and apparently thought they were playing before the forward pass was legal. Ten of the plays on their first drive were runs, mainly by RB Jacquizz Rodgers. The Bucs were able to pound the rock into field goal range and the Bucs were up quickly.
A Panther three-and-out led to an Andy Lee punt and the Bucs had the ball once again. They opened up the playbook and actually threw a little bit. The Panthers were able to force a third and one situation that was pushed back to third and six after a false start. The Panthers were able to capitalize and get a sack of Jameis Winston to end the first quarter. At this point the Panthers were behind 3-0 after a quick first fifteen minutes.
The Bucs would punt to start the second quarter. Derek Anderson was able to sling the ball around a bit and get the ball moving, but the drive would end in another punt. The Panthers would force a three and out after a great defensive play by CB Teddy Williams on a pass breakup. On the ensuing punt, the Teddy Williams we all know and love returned to us as he inexplicably ran into return man Ted Ginn Jr and forced a muff that would be recovered by the Bucs.
The defense stood strong and forced a field goal try by second round pick K Roberto Aguayo. Luckily Aguayo is not very good at this point in his career and he banged the 33-yard try off the right upright. For those of us doubting Dave Gettleman, just remember that the Bucs traded up into the second round to draft Aguayo. Derek Anderson would be intercepted on a tipped pass three plays later, so the Bucs were in business again. The Bucs moved the chains a couple times and Aguayo was actually able to make a field goal this time around.
The Panthers got the ball back late in the half and finally looked pretty good offensively. They drove all the way down the field and got into prime Graham Gano territory. Unfortunately Gano caught whatever was afflicting Aguayo and he missed his field goal try just before the end of the half. The Panthers went into the locker room down 6-0.
The Panthers started the second half looking like the defending NFC Champs. Derek Anderson and company marched down the field and converted a fourth and goal from the one as RB Cameron Artis-Payne skied for the touchdown. The Panthers defense fed off the momentum and forced a three and out. The offense again marched right down the field and again Artis-Payne found pay dirt.
It was at this point that Jameis and the Bucs’ offense woke up and went on a quick touchdown drive, as WR Mike Evans made CB Darryl Worley look like the inexperienced rookie he is. The Bucs went ahead and attempted the two point conversion for the tie and were successful. The Panthers and Bucs would trade punts to end the quarter tied at 14-14.
The fourth quarter is when the “Start DA!” crowd should have crawled away and hidden under the rock whence they came. To begin the fourth quarter, Derek Anderson took off attempting to convert a first down. His attempt at a spin move left the football vulnerable and the Bucs punched it out and recovered the loose ball. Luckily the defense bailed Anderson out by forcing a quick punt.
The Panthers offense was cruising on the ensuing drive and they got all the way inside the Buccaneer five yard line. On first and goal from inside the five, Derek Anderson threw without a doubt the dumbest pass of his entire life and CB Brent Grimes came away with the interception in the end zone. Peewee quarterbacks know not to force the ball on first and goal. You have at least two more chances to punch it in. Don’t be stupid. Derek made a stupid decision and it cost the Panthers.
The Bucs were able to move into field goal range, but Aguayo shanked another try and the Panthers dodged a bullet. Anderson could not recover and the Panthers had a three and out. From there the Bucs drove into field goal range in the two minute drill. A boneheaded facemask by DE Kony Ealy made the potential game-winning field goal for a struggling rookie kicker that much easier. Of course Aguayo actually hit the game winner and the Panthers fell to 1-4.
This is not a very good team right now and the injuries are not helping. Get some rest, Panther fans. It might be a long season.