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Panthers at Buccaneers Final Score: Rushing game and turnovers return as Panthers win 17-3

It was an ugly win, but it was still a win over a division rival.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers finally found some semblance of a run game, and got back to their takeaway play style on defense for a win. It wasn’t a pretty game, but that’s nothing new for the Carolina Panthers.


  • Gonna start this off with an appropriate first topic, and that’s takeaways. Carolina has struggled to force turnovers all season, but they managed to get three this game (four if you include the turnover on downs). An interception by Mike Adams and an interception by Luke Kuechly stalled what could have been scoring drives. They sacked Winston 3 times, but kept the pressure on him all game and forced errant passes. This defense is legit.
  • The offense didn’t look particularly good most of the game, but they were able to rush for over 100 yards and returned to a rushing-centric game plan. The defense certainly bailed them out at times, but this offense looked a lot more like the offense that can win games for the Panthers.
  • The returning defensive leaders, Kuechly and Kurt Coleman, both had turnovers today. Kuechly was particularly impressive with 8 tackles, a pass deflection, and a pick.
  • The offense didn’t struggle AS MUCH with clock management pre-snap, but they did have to give up a timeout in the first half. Apparently, it will take time for them to fix this but we saw progress.
  • The deep passing game struggled, and Cam often went deep to covered receivers instead of hitting his open checkdowns. Not sure if they are simply looking to generate more big plays or if the reads weren’t meant for the flat, but there’s opportunity there to take advantage. Teams are clearly trying to stop the deep passing game.

The Panthers started this defensive slug fest with a 3 and out on defense, forcing a punt despite an encroachment penalty by Charles Johnson. The offense followed suit with a 3 and out, and the Bucs were forced to punt on the ensuing drive. Carolina’s offense woke up, with a run heavy 17 play drive that ended with a Jonathan Stewart rushing TD as he dove over the goal line. The teams traded punts on short drives, and the Bucs started to get a drive going but that ended with a sack-fumble by Julius Peppers (that put him 4th all time in sacks) that was recovered by Kurt Coleman. The offense couldn’t capitalize, but by playing the field position game they were able to get a field goal two drives later to close out the half.

On the Panthers’ opening drive, Chris Conte intercepted an errant pass by Cam Newton. The Bucs ended up punting then too, but with the field position game going they were able to get a field goal two drives later. After several punts, the Panthers were able to force another turnover with a pass being tipped by Captain Munnerlyn on a pressure of Jameis Winston. Mike Adams intercepted the pass and fumbled, but the Panthers were able to recover. They responded with a touchdown drive, off a 25 yard reception by Kelvin Benjamin by Cam Newton. The Bucs tried to mount a comeback, but Luke Kuechly shut that down with an interception of a pass intended for Cameron Brate. The Panthers punted with 4 minutes left, and the Bucs turned the ball over on downs in the redzone. The Panthers closed the game out for a win, they are 5-3.

What’s Next

This wasn’t the prettiest win, but a win nonetheless. The Panthers are 5-3 and very much control their own destiny. They have a date with the Atlanta Falcons next week in another important divisional matchup.

The Panthers look more like themselves, but there’s still plenty of improvement to be made. A dominant defense helps while they try to get things right on offense.