Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers-Panthers Preview

Buccaneers-Panthers Preview

Cam Newton is all but certain to break the NFL's all-time rookie record for passing yards Saturday against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium.

While he certainly understands the magnitude of that achievement, Newton - as he has been all season - is more focused on beating his opponent.

With 3,722 passing yards, Newton is 17 away from breaking Peyton Manning's rookie record set in 1998. The No. 1 overall pick in the draft, however, has other things on his mind.

"We got an excellent game plan to be successful against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," he said. "We need this win, it would be an early Christmas gift on Christmas Eve. I'm more worried about the win column rather than individualistic stats.

"The big goal is to win the game."

While much has been made about Newton's eye-popping numbers, his impressive early season stats didn't lead to much success. Newton averaged 288.5 passing yards and threw for 12 TDs through 10 games, but he also had 16 turnovers as Carolina started 2-8. He's since led the Panthers (5-9) to three wins in four games, averaging 209.3 yards through the air while throwing for five TDs with only two turnovers.

Newton didn't commit one Sunday as he completed 13 of 23 passes for 149 yards and two scores in a 28-13 victory at Houston. He's thrown 16 interceptions during the team's losses and zero in its wins.

"I think that's the key to success for the Carolina Panthers offensively," he said. "I look at other quarterbacks across the league and when they do a good job of protecting the football that's just the key to the win.

"If you wanna be an elite player, you're gonna have to do something different. You have to be consistent. I don't think I'm consistent enough, I can be more consistent."

He's certainly been consistently good running the ball, averaging 50.2 rushing yards over the past eight games and 6.0 per carry. Newton's 609 rushing yards are one shy of Tim Tebow for the NFL lead among quarterbacks.

The Buccaneers (4-10), whose current eight-game skid is their longest in 24 years, know all too well about Newton's tremendous ability.

His three most recent rushing TDs all came in a 38-19 rout of Tampa on Dec. 4, as he broke Steve Grogan's single-season league record by a quarterback - set in 1976. Newton's 13 scores on the round are second in the league to Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (17).

With the playoffs out of the picture, the Panthers are starting to turn their attention to next season, and have plenty to be excited about given their recent efforts.

"Some people may say that we aren't playing for anything," four-time Pro Bowl wideout Steve Smith told the team's official website. "But we are playing for the next two Sundays and then the first Sunday in September."

Smith needs five receptions to pass Muhsin Muhammad's 696 for the most in franchise history. His chances of doing so may have improved with the Buccaneers placing cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve Monday with a hamstring injury that kept him out for most of the past three games.

Tampa Bay opened 4-2 and looked headed for a successful campaign before suddenly finding itself in a state of flux. The Buccaneers, who haven't lost nine in a row since Sept. 8-Nov. 3, 1985, have been outscored 256-134 during their skid while turning the ball over an NFL-worst 24 times since Oct. 23.

"It's hard to make those excuses right now. I won't do that. Anything you say about talent level, it makes an excuse for yourself," coach Raheem Morris said. "We've got to go out and do a better job coaching. We have to go out and do a better job playing. We've got to go out there and do a better job getting it done."

The Buccaneers allowed 28 unanswered points in the first half of last Saturday's 31-15 loss to Dallas. Josh Freeman threw for a season-low 148 yards - the third straight game he failed to crack 200 - and lost a key fumble.

"It's the National Football League. You have to take some pride in what you are doing, take some pride in being a Buccaneer," he said. "If nothing else, do it for your teammates, do it for your coaches."

Tampa Bay, which ranks 30th in the league with an average of 141.1 rushing yards allowed, is sure to have a hard time slowing down a Panthers team that's compiled 171.8 yards per game on the ground over its 3-1 run.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Latest Headlines