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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game Awards: Bucs vs. Panthers

Game Ball
LB Lavonte David did a little bit of everything in helping the Buccaneers' defense tighten up when it had to and deny Carolina the end zone. Every single Panthers drive of the afternoon finished in Buccaneer territory, but the only one that found the end zone was the one that started at Tampa Bay's two-yard line after a fumble. David filled up his stat line with 12 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. His sack ended a Carolina scoring threat in the third quarter when the Bucs were trying to stay within on score. David even forced a fumble on Carolina's final drive, when the Panthers were merely trying to bleed the last three minutes off the clock, but RB DeAngelo Williams was fortunate enough to pull the loose ball back in.


Play of the Game*
DE Charles Johnson's third-down sack of QB Josh McCown on the first drive of the third quarter would have been bad enough if it forced the Bucs to punt from their own two-yard line. However, it turned into the game's crucial play when the ball slipped from McCown's grasp and was recovered by Panthers DT Kawann Short at Tampa Bay's two-yard line. Carolina scored the go-ahead touchdown – and their *only
touchdown – two plays later on a short pass from QB Derek Anderson to WR Jerricho Cotchery. Considering the stingy efforts of Tampa Bay's defense in the red zone on Sunday, even a punt that got the ball back to midfield could have easily shaved four or seven points off the Panthers final total, and that obviously would have been decisive.


Turning Point**
DE Larry English was rushing the passer early in the fourth quarter when Anderson got the ball off in the direction of TE Greg Olsen. LB Danny Lansanah dived in front of Olsen and nearly intercepted it, but the ball went off his hands, then deflected off Olsen and was plucked out of the air by LB Orie Lemon.  Lemon's turnover would have put the Bucs at Carolina's 31 with a chance to regain the lead, but the play was called back because English was flagged for roughing the passer when his hand made contact with Anderson's helmet. The Panthers retained possession and went on to score what would prove to be the clinching three points.

It Was Over When
On second-and-seven from the Carolina 37, Anderson faked a handoff and threw a 10-yard slant to WR Kelvin Benjamin, one of eight passes the rookie caught on the afternoon. The play moved the sticks and gave the Panthers the opportunity to bleed off the rest of the Buccaneers timeouts and most of the remaining time on the clock.

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