Thursday Night Football featured the Carolina Panthers at 3-3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 0-6 from Tampa Bay. This was Carolina’s first divisional game.
The Panthers won the toss and deferred, letting the Bucs take the field. After a quick 3 and out, the Panthers took the field at their 30 yard line.
Newton’s first pass went seven yards but Carolina drew a facemask call that cost them 15 yards, pushing the line of scrimmage back to the 21. The second pass drew another flag, this time against Darrelle Revis of the Bucs, for a push on the targeted receiver.
Newton was sacked by Lavonte David for 12 yards on play-action back to the 45 yard line. Newton’s next pass was caught by Steve Smith for 10 yards for a 3rd and long. Newton scrambled for the first down inside the 20 yard line.
On 3rd and goal, Newton took the snap and escaped pressure from the Bucs’ defense by tossing the ball into the end zone to Greg Olsen for the first score of the game. The drive was 15 plays and took over eight minutes off the clock.
On the Bucs’ second offensive series, Glennon was flushed from the pocket but scrambled to his left and completed a first down pass to wide receiver Vincent Jackson. On the next play, Glennon’s pass was caught for another first down at the 31 yard line. The Bucs settled for a field goal after a high pass went incomplete on 3rd and 8.
To start the second quarter, the Panthers marched down the field to score another touchdown. With 4:03 remaining in the half, Tampa kicked anther field goal after a long drive. Newton was sacked by Michael Adam to bring up 3rd and 17. Newton’s toss fell four yards short and instead of attempting a 59 yard field goal, the Panthers punted, leaving Tampa 53 seconds in the half.
Glennon threw a short pass then a bomb down field, but was sacked on the next play for the second time by Hardy. The first half ended with the score 14-6, Carolina.
In the opening drive of the third quarter, Tampa’s defense held the Panthers to a 3 and out, after one first down. The Bucs took the 59 yard punt back for 6 yards. After another Tampa 3 and out, the Panthers took over at their 47 yard line with 11 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Newton escaped the pocket and scrambled again to the seven yard line for 1st and goal. From the six yard line on 2nd and goal, he scrambled again for the Panthers third touchdown. Newton gained 33 of the 53 yards of the drive by rushing.
Charles Johnson got through the Buc’s o-line to sack Glennon again, bringing up 3rd and long. The pass was knocked away, and Bucs were forced to punt. On a Panther’s punt, Eric Page on the Bucs special teams dropped the ball and the Panthers recovered at the Bucs 29. At the end of the third quarter, Carolina remained in the lead 21-6.
Newton passed from the three yard line for another Panthers touchdown to open the fourth quarter. The Bucs continued to fall on possession after possession. With less than seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Panthers kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 31-6.
Tampa’s pirate ship cannons finally had a chance to fire when Glennon found Tim Wright at the back of the end zone for Tampa’s first touchdown of the game. The score went to 31-13 with a little over two minutes to go in the game.
The Bucs attempted an on-side kick and recovered the ball for another chance to put points on the board. Glennon was hit from behind by Hardy on the run but gained yards on the play. The second down pass was knocked down to bring, but Carolina drew an unnecessary roughness flag that gifted Tampa a first down at the Panther’s 42 yard line.
A subsequent call of encroachment on the Panthers gave the Bucs another push forward. Glennon threw deep but incomplete. At 2:13 to play, 2nd and 5, Glennon was flushed and passed complete to the sideline. A 10 yard holding flag pushed Tampa back and negated the pass. On 3rd down, Glennon completed to Wright to recoup the penalized yards.
After the two-minute warning, Glennon passed complete for 15 yards and a first down. A shot into the end zone was missed by Page. Charles Johnson got to Glennon for his second sack of the night. Bucs kicked and made a 45 yard field goal but a flag on Carolina for unnecessary roughness allowed the Bucs another chance for the touchdown.
Panthers took over on downs with 53 seconds left to play. Newton and his offensive line took the field and knelt down to run the clock out.
The final score was 31-13. The Panthers improve to 4-3, winning three in a row and going over .500 for the first time since 2008. Tampa Bay drops to 0-7, and has some serious internal work to do. Held to just two field goals until late in the fourth quarter, the offense must become more active and capitalize on every opportunity to score.
The Panthers play the Atlanta Falcons(2-4) at home from Bank of America Stadium on Nov.3. The Buccaneers will face the Seattle Seahawks (6-1) on Nov.3 on the road at CenturyLink Field.
By: Brandi Tasby