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2023 Game Preview: Buccaneers-Panthers, Week 18

The Bucs finish the regular season with a game in Charlotte Sunday that will determine whether or not they are still playing next weekend, against a Panthers team that took them down to the wire in Week 13


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into Week 17 of the 2023 season with two opportunities to clinch a third straight NFC South title. They missed the first one when they came out flat against a highly-motivated New Orleans Saints team and limped to a 23-13 loss. That was the last bit of leeway left in the Buccaneers efforts to make the playoffs, so with just one more chance left, the team can't afford to perform the way it did against the Saints. How do the Bucs flip the script? With juice.

That was the message that Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales had for his players, who scored on six of their first seven drives in a Week 16 blowout of the Jaguars but didn't get on the scoreboard until their 10th possession last Sunday.

"We need energy, we need juice, and Coach Canales said earlier that one play or one drive does not define the outcome of a game," said running back Rachaad White. "You have to keep going, keep fighting, keep playing. But, regardless of what's going on, we need to have juice and energy."

The opposition is the 2-14 Panthers, who recently took another 8-8 team with playoff aspirations, the Green Bay Packers, down to the wire in a 33-30 loss. The Panthers also stretched things out to the end in a Week 13 game in Tampa, which the Buccaneers won, 21-18, after a late game-sealing interception by safety Antoine Winfield Jr. With that in mind, and with so much at stake, the Buccaneers know not to take anything for granted based on the team's records.

"One hundred percent," said Winfield. "They're a team that [has] nothing to lose. It's going to be one of those games. I know they're coming in and they're going to have a lot of energy because they have an opportunity to knock us out of the playoffs. I feel like, being on the opposite side of it, I'd be like, 'Oh yeah, we've got to get these guys out of the playoffs.' So, I feel like they're coming with that energy – we have to make sure that we match it."

Tampa Bay's quarterback, former Panther Baker Mayfield, is dealing with a ribs injury that he sustained late in last week's loss and he's going to have to battle to be ready to go by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Mayfield, who was waived by Carolina last December after being acquired during the summer in a trade, has had a resurgent season in Tampa and is closing in on 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. After cycling through a number of different passers in 2022, the Panthers went in the other direction and traded up to get the first pick in the draft in order to land Alabama star Bryce Young. Young's first season won't in the end playoffs but he could finish it on a high note with a performance like the one he had against the Packers. With one game left, he has 2,783 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Carolina's defense has also quietly put together a fine season in many regards. It has allowed the third fewest net yards overall and the third fewest passing yards and rank seventh in yards allowed per play. Pro Bowl edge rusher Brian Burns picked up his seventh sack of the season last Sunday in Jacksonville and the Jaguars have star-caliber players at every level on defense with defensive tackle Derrick Brown, linebacker Frankie Luvu and cornerback Jaycee Horn.

"We don't take anybody lightly," said Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles. "We were underdogs most of the year – we can't afford to. Division games, especially, regardless of who we're playing. It was a tough game that went down to the end the last time we played them – we expect it to be a tough one this time.

"You've got to earn everything. Like I told them, nobody is going to give you anything. You earn everything you get in this league. Whether you're the best of teams or the worst of teams, you're going to earn everything you get every week."


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) at Carolina Panthers (2-14)

Sunday, January 7, 1:00 p.m. ET

Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 65,844)

Tampa, Florida

Television: FOX (Local WTVT Channel 13)

TV Broadcast Team: Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst), Shannon Spake (reporter)

Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station

Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (sideline)

Spanish Radio: 96.1 Caliente

Spanish Radio Broadcast Team: Carlos Bohorquez (play-by-play), Martin Gramática (analyst)


The Panthers lead the all-time series with the Buccaneers, 25-21, but the Buccaneers have won six of the last seven meetings and eight of the last 10. That includes consecutive season sweeps in 2020 and 2021, the first time the Bucs had managed that against Carolina since the NFC South was formed in 2002. The Buccaneers and Panthers also met three times before realignment put them in the same division, including a contest in Death Valley that the Bucs won, 20-13, in the Panthers' 1995 inaugural season.

The Buccaneers will try to get another season sweep on Sunday after winning the first meeting in Week 13, 21-18. On a rainy afternoon and early evening in Tampa, the Bucs outlasted a game Panthers squad thanks to wide receiver Chris Godwin's 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on an end-around. That gave the home team an 11-point lead, which the Panthers shaved to three on Chuba Hubbard's one-yard touchdown run with five minutes to go. Carolina got the ball back with 3:31 to play but safety Antoine Winfield Jr. saved the Bucs with an interception near midfield.

Since the two teams started playing each other twice a year, the head-to-head battle has traditionally been one-sided, though that side often flips back and forth. From 2002-17, 13 of the 16 season series between these two teams ended in a sweep, including every one from 2009 through 2017. It went Carolina's way in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The Bucs got the sweep in 2002, 2010, 2012 and 2016. Interestingly, the three splits came in years the Buccaneers either made the playoffs (2005, 2007) or really should have (2008…which ended in a four-game losing streak after a 9-3 start).

The 2022 head-to-head, however, was a split, with each team winning at home. Carolina handed the Bucs perhaps their most humbling loss of the season in Week Seven, a 21-3 drubbing at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Panthers came into the game with a 1-5 record and had recently fired Head Coach Matt Rhule and traded superstar running back Christian McCaffrey. Third-string quarterback P.J. Walker completed 16 of his 22 passes and tossed two touchdowns against no interceptions and running backs D'Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard combined for 181 rushing yards.

The rematch in Week 17 proved to be one of the Buccaneers' most important wins in recent years as it clinched the team's second straight NFC South title and made a potential divisional free-for-all in Week 18 moot. It didn't come easily, as the Panthers rushed out to a quick 14-0 lead on two Sam Darnold touchdown passes, but Tom Brady solved the problem by repeatedly throwing moon shots to Mike Evans. Evans caught touchdown passes of 63, 57 and 30 yards and finished the game with 207 yards on 10 grabs. His last one put the Bucs in the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter, and a Brady touchdown run provided the final winning margin in a 30-24 squeaker.

The Bucs and Panthers met twice in the final three weeks of the 2021 season, with Tampa Bay taking both contests by a combined score of 73-23. In the regular season finale, the Buccaneers got 137 receiving yards from Rob Gronkowski and two touchdown receptions from Evans before wideout Scotty Miller capped the scoring by taking an end-around 33 yards for a touchdown. Two weeks earlier, the Buccaneers had prevailed at Bank of America Stadium when the defense sacked quarterbacks Darnold and Cam Newton a total of seven times and allowing just two field goals. Safety Jordan Whitehead had a key interception and three pass break-ups. Ke'Shawn Vaughn's 55-yard touchdown jaunt, the Bucs' longest run of the year, started the scoring and emerging wideout Cyril Grayson accounted for 95 yards of offense, including a 62-yard reception.

In 2020, the Bucs' September win at home against Carolina was the first of 15 they would stack up on their way to a Super Bowl championship, and the first win as a Buccaneer for Tom Brady. Leonard Fournette paced the offense with 116 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns and Carlton Davis and Whitehead each had interceptions off Teddy Bridgewater in a 31-17 decision. The rematch in Charlotte in November was a high-scoring affair that included the longest run in Buccaneers' history, Ronald Jones' 98-yard touchdown dash. Incredibly, the Buccaneers scored on 10 straight possessions to pull away from the Panthers for a 46-23 win.

In 2019, the Buccaneers secured a tight win in Charlotte on a Thursday night in Week Two when Vernon Hargreaves knocked Christian McCaffrey out of bounds two yards shy of the sticks on an all-or-nothing fourth-down run off a direct snap. That 20-14 Bucs win was balanced four weeks later by a 37-26 win for Carolina in a game played in London.

Perhaps the most notable wins for Tampa Bay in the series with Carolina came in 2002 and 2005. At the midpoint of the 2002 Super Bowl campaign, the Buccaneers were coming off a deflating loss in Philadelphia (again) and had to play at Carolina without their quarterback, Brad Johnson, who woke up with the flu. Defense dominated and the Bucs were trailing 9-6 late in the fourth quarter before Martin Gramatica saved the day with two long field goals. In 2005, the Buccaneers were in the middle of a late-season three-game road swing when they went to Bank of America Stadium and won a battle for first place by a 20-10 score. Ronde Barber punctuated that game with a sack and a critical interception, becoming the first cornerback ever to reach 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in his career.


  • Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht was a member of the Panthers' scouting staff in 1998.
  • Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield spent the majority of the 2022 season with the Panthers. He was traded to Carolina by the Cleveland Browns in July of 2022 and subsequently won a preseason competition with Sam Darnold to earn the opening-day starting job under center. He played in seven games with six starts for the Panthers before being waived in December and claimed by the Rams.
  • Carolina Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero launched his NFL coaching career in 2007 when he joined Jon Gruden's staff as a defensive quality control coach. He held that position for two seasons under Gruden and one more under Raheem Morris.
  • Similarly, Todd Wash, now the Panthers' defensive line coach, got his first NFL coaching job in Tampa in the same year, and with the same title of defensive quality control coach. He was promoted in 2008 to defensive line coach and held that job for three seasons before moving on to the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Six years prior to the arrivals in Tampa of Evero and Wash, Jim Caldwell joined Tony Dungy's 2001 staff as the quarterbacks coach. Caldwell would follow Dungy to Indianapolis in 2002 and eventually earn head coaching stints with the Colts and Lions. He is now a senior assistant on Carolina's staff.
  • Kevin Winston, who is currently the Panthers' Vice President of Player Affairs, served as Tampa Bay's director of player development on Dungy's staff from 1996-99.


Tampa Bay:

  • Head Coach Todd Bowles
  • Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
  • Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales
  • Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers
  • Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote
  • Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong


  • Interim Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor
  • Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown
  • Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero



  • LB SirVocea Dennis (fifth-round draft pick)
  • OLB Yaya Diaby (third-round draft pick)
  • TE Payne Durham (fifth-round draft pick)
  • RB Chase Edmonds (FA)
  • G Matt Feiler (FA)
  • DL Greg Gaines (UFA)
  • CB Josh Hayes (sixth-round draft pick)
  • CB Keenan Isaac (UDFA)
  • S Christian Izien (UDFA)
  • DL Calijah Kancey (first-round draft pick)
  • G Cody Mauch (second-round draft pick)
  • QB Baker Mayfield (UFA)
  • K Chase McLaughlin (UFA)
  • S Ryan Neal (FA)
  • WR Trey Palmer (sixth-round draft pick)
  • RB Sean Tucker (UDFA)


  • S Vonn Bell (UFA)
  • WR D.J. Chark (UFA)
  • S Alex Cook (FA)
  • QB Andy Dalton (UFA)
  • G J.D. DiRenzo (UDFA)
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (UFA)
  • TE Hayden Hurst (UFA…currently on injured reserve)
  • CB D'Shawn Jamison (W-SF)
  • G Nash Jensen (UDFA)
  • OLB D.J. Johnson (third-round draft pick)
  • LB Deion Jones (FA)
  • T Ilm Manning (FA)
  • WR Jonathan Mingo (second-round draft pick...currently on injured reserve)
  • CB Jammie Robinson (fifth-round draft pick)
  • RB Miles Sanders (UFA)
  • WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette (T-KC)
  • WR Adam Thielen (FA)
  • DT Shy Tuttle (UFA)
  • DE DeShawn Williams (UFA)
  • DE Chris Wormley (FA)
  • K Matthew Wright (FA...currently on practice squad)
  • QB Bryce Young (first-round draft pick)
  • G Chandler Zavala (fourth-round draft pick...currently on injured reserve)



  • Todd Bowles enters his second season as the Bucs' head coach with a new offensive coordinator on his staff. Former Seahawks Quarterbacks Coach Dave Canales takes over for Byron Leftwich, who spent four seasons in that role, the first three under Head Coach Bruce Arians. Canales helped quarterback Geno Smith go from journeyman to the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 and has roots in the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay systems.
  • The Buccaneers made a number of other changes to Bowles' staff after the 2022 season, bringing in George Edwards (a former Vikings defensive coordinator) to coach outside linebackers, Brad Idzik to tutor wide receivers, and Skip Peete to take over the running backs room. David Raih and Jordan Somerville also joined the team as senior offensive analyst and assistant quarterbacks coach, respectively. With the arrival of Edwards, defensive Pass Game Coordinator Larry Foote switched from the outside linebacker room to the inside linebacker group. Thaddeus Lewis, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant wide receivers coach, was promoted to quarterbacks coach.
  • After winning a Super Bowl and two division titles over the past three years, the Buccaneers saw an era come to an end when quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement in late January. To move on at the game's most critical position, the Buccaneers brought in former number-one overall draft pick Baker Mayfield to compete with 2021 second-round selection Kyle Trask. Former Ram John Wolford was also added for experienced depth in the quarterback room. Mayfield was named the opening-day starter by Bowles between the second and third preseason games in August.
  • After largely "keeping the band together" for the 2021-22 seasons after their Super Bowl LV victory, the Buccaneers parted ways with a number of prominent players in 2023. Donovan Smith, who occupied the Bucs' starting left tackle spot for eight seasons, was released in March, as were tight end Cameron Brate, running back Leonard Fournette and kicker Ryan Succop. Safety Mike Edwards, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, safety Keanu Neal, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tackle Josh Wells all found new homes in free agency while defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, wide receiver Julio Jones, outside linebacker Carl Nassib, tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Logan Ryan were not immediately re-signed. Jones has since signed with the Eagles.


  • The Panthers brought in a new coaching staff over the offseason after choosing not to stick with Steve Wilks, who had served as the interim head coach after the in-season firing of Matt Rhule. Carolina instead turned to Frank Reich, who had also been dismissed as the head coach of the Colts during the 2022 season. In Week 13, the Panthers started the process over again by firing Reich following the team's 1-10 start and naming Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor as the interim head coach. Quarterbacks Coach Josh McCown and Running Backs Coach Duce Staley were also let go.
  • Other noteworthy additions to the coaching staff that Reich initially put together and who remain with the team are Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero and Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown. Evero spent the 2022 season as the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator, leading the NFL's seventh-ranked unit. Brown interviewed extensively with various teams in the offseason, including the Buccaneers, and eventually left the Rams for Carolina, bringing with him a Sean McVay offensive influence.
  • Carolina made a deep investment in what they hope will be their next franchise quarterback during the offseason. Originally slated to pick ninth in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Panthers instead made a bold move, trading wide receiver D.J. Moore, a 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick to Chicago for the first-overall pick. Carolina then tabbed Alabama's Bryce Young as their choice, making him the first of three quarterbacks to go in the first four selections, as the Texans then took Ohio State's C.J. Stroud second and the Colts went with Florida's Anthony Richardson fourth. Young has started 10 of the Panthers' first 11 games, missing the Week Three contest against Seattle due to an ankle injury. Carolina also brought in seasoned veteran Andy Dalton to serve as Young's backup.
  • Since the Buccaneers and Panthers met for the first time this season in Week 13, Carolina has lost starting tight end Hayden Hurst to injured reserve due to a concussion that left him with Post Traumatic Amnesia. He was placed on I.R. on December 15, which means that even if he (hopefully) recovers fully before the end of the season he will not return to the field in 2023. There were four games left on Carolina's schedule when he went to injured reserve, which is the minimum number a player has to miss before returning to the active roster. Hurst had 18 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown before his injury.
  • The Panthers signed veteran edge rusher Justin Houston during training camp. He played in and started seven games for the team and recorded a half-sack and nine tackles. However, he was placed on injured reserve in early November and was released by the club on December 20.



DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed


  • OLB Shaquil Barrett (groin) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • LB K.J. Britt (calf) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • CB Carlton Davis (concussion) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • DL Mike Greene* (calf) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Out.
  • WR Rakim Jarrett* (quadriceps) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • TE Ko Kieft (foot) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • QB Baker Mayfield (ribs) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • S Kaevon Merriweather (thigh) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • WR Trey Palmer (hip) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • T Tristan Wirfs (shoulder) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

* Mike Greene and Rakim Jarrett are on injured reserve but have been designated to return and are currently in their 21-day practice windows.


  • OLB Brian Burns (knee) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • WR D.J. Chark (foot) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • LB Tae Davis (illness) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (groin) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • OLB Marquis Haynes (concussion) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
  • P Johnny Hekker (personal) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: Removed from injury report.
  • CB Troy Hill (concussion) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • CB Jaycee Horn (toe) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
  • G Cade Mays (finger) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Doubtful.
  • T Taylor Moton (knee) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • K Eddy Pineiro (right hamstring) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Doubtful.
  • RB Miles Sanders (illness) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: Removed from injury report.
  • WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette (illness/hip) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
  • QB Bryce Young (back) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.


Sunshine with some cloudy intervals. High of 56, low of 30, 9% chance of rain, 67% humidity, winds out of the W at 11 mph.


Head referee: Clete Blakeman (16th season, 14th as referee)


  • Favorite: Buccaneers (-5.5)
  • Over/Under: 37.5



Points Scored: K Chase McLauglin, 111

Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 13

Passing Yards: QB Baker Mayfield, 3,907

Passer Rating: QB Baker Mayfield, 95.9

Rushing Yards: RB Rachaad White, 915

Receptions: WR Chris Godwin, 77

Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 1,233

Interceptions: S Antoine Winfield Jr., 3

Sacks: OLB Yaya Diaby, 6.5

Tackles: LB Lavonte David, 124


Points Scored: K Eddy Pineiro, 92

Touchdowns: WR D.J. Chark/RB Chuba Hubbard, 5

Passing Yards: QB Bryce Young, 2,783

Passer Rating: QB Andy Dalton, 88.4

Rushing Yards: RB Chuba Hubbard, 819

Receptions: WR Adam Thielen, 101

Receiving Yards: WR Adam Thielen, 1,002

Interceptions: S Xavier Woods, 2

Sacks: OLB Brian Burns, 7.0

Tackles: LB Frankie Luvu, 119



Scoring Offense: 19th (21.2 ppg)

Total Offense: 23rd (318.3 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 31st (87.3 ypg)

Passing Offense: 15th (231.1 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-24th (17.9)

Third-Down Pct.: 11th (41.8%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 12th (6.90%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 25th (48.9%)

Scoring Defense: 10th (20.3 ppg)

Total Defense: 25th (353.3 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 6th (93.1 ypg)

Passing Defense: 32nd (260.3 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 22nd (20.4)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 27th (42.3%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 18th (7.59%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 4th (42.6%)

Turnover Margin: 9th (+6)


Scoring Offense: 31st (14.8 ppg)

Total Offense: 32nd (269.4 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 20th (102.4 ypg)

Passing Offense: 31st (167.1 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-24th (17.9)

Third-Down Pct.: 26th (35.0%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 30th (10.92%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 22nd (50.0%)

Scoring Defense: 30th (25.4 ppg)

Total Defense: 3rd (298.1 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 23rd (123.0 ypg)

Passing Defense: 3rd (175.1 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-11th (18.6)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 14th (38.1%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 30th (5.35%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 27th (66.7%)

Turnover Margin: t-23rd (-7)


  • Wide receiver Mike Evans scored twice in Week 16 to push his season total to an NFL-leading 13 touchdown receptions. With one more, he would tie his own single-season franchise record for most overall touchdowns and most touchdown receptions, both of which he set at 14 in 2021
  • Quarterback Baker Mayfield has thrown 28 touchdown passes this season. With two more he would become just the third quarterback in franchise history with 30 TD passes in a season, joining Tom Brady (2020, 2021) and Jameis Winston (2019).
  • Wide receiver Chris Godwin caught his 34th career touchdown pass in Week 17 against the Saints, moving him out of a tie for third place in team history with Cameron Brate and into a tie with former TE Jimmie Giles for second place. One more would give him sole possession of that second spot behind only his teammate, Evans (94).
  • Godwin has 973 receiving yards on the season, meaning he needs just 27 more on Sunday to reach 1,000 for the fourth time in his career. That would break a tie with Joey Galloway and Vincent Jackson for the second most 1,000-yard receiving seasons in Bucs history.
  • Running back Rachaad White has 915 rushing yards and needs 85 more to record his first career 1,000-yard rushing season and the first by a Bucs running back since Doug Martin in 2015.
  • If both Godwin and White get to the 1,000-yard level, it will mark the first time in Buccaneers history that the team had a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season.
  • Outside linebacker Yaya Diaby has 6.5 sacks and needs one more to tie Adrian Clayborn (7.5 in 2011) for the second most sacks by a rookie in Buccaneers annals.


  • Head Coach Todd Bowles on the resilience the Bucs have shown throughout the season: "A lot of fighters on this team. A lot of vets [and] a lot of young guys that don't know what it's all about, that the vets are teaching and the coaches are teaching. [I am] very proud of the effort – we've just got to play smarter. They understand that. We can't play conservative or safe. We just have to do our job and go out there Sunday and cross our t's and dot our i's."
  • Quarterback Baker Mayfield on what he's experienced playing through rib injuries in the past: "It's one of those things [where] you just have to constantly stay warm. You can't let it tighten up. You've just got to continually be loose, whether it's hot packs on the sideline [or] just making sure you get the extra work in – just things like that. Every one of them is different. But yeah, especially for a quarterback having to rotate to throw, you've just got to stay loose."
  • Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. on Panthers quarterback Bryce Young: "We've got to contain him, first and foremost. We've got to contain him inside the pocket and make him throw from there. He's still a good, young player. We've got to make sure we control him."
  • Running back Rachaad White on Mayfield attempting to play against the Panthers while dealing with a ribs injury: "The biggest thing I have seen from him is [he is] the ultimate competitor. Like I said, you talk about a QB who passes the ball, who runs the ball when [need] be, just extends plays, you know he fights out of tackles and things like that. He makes miracles happen, so everything that I have seen from him on the field all year and his fight, his competitiveness, how he is, his nature of who he is, and his character goes to tell me he will be straight on Sunday."
  • Outside linebacker Yaya Diaby on how important turnovers will be against Carolina: "Yeah, this is definitely a game where we have to get a lot of turnovers to be able to help our offense out and help bounce back with each other – where the offense is clicking and we're clicking. When we're doing that, we're a good team – a really good team."

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