Double A becomes Triple A on the day.
Safety Andrew Adams, who was signed by the team on September 26, had himself a career day when he nabbed a hat trick of interceptions for the Bucs' defense. His first pick came off a tipped pass by linebacker Lavonte David in his first game back from injury. Adams grabbed the ball mid-air on Carolina's first possession of the game and took the ball down to the Carolina 20-yard line and setting up a Bucs' 35-yard field goal. His second came on an errant throw by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton in the fourth quarter, after he was pressured by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Adams went on to credit the entire defensive line for the pressure they brought all afternoon when speaking to the media in the locker room following the game. Adams' third interception then came on a pass intended for Panthers' wide receiver Curtis Samuel later in the fourth that prevented the Panthers from advancing beyond the Tampa Bay 32-yard line.
Though his nickname is "Double A," in his postgame press conference, quarterback Jameis Winston said he's now calling Adams "Triple A" because of his three interceptions today.
Winston breaks the Bucs' all-time passing touchdown record.
Speaking of Winston, the Bucs' signal caller completed 20-of-30 passing attempts on the day for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Those two scores were significant in that the first tied then the second subsequently broke the Bucs' all-time passing touchdown record. The previous mark was 80 set by former Buccaneer quarterback Josh Freeman. Winston now has 81 in his four-year career with the Bucs and is in sole possession of the record.
It was another clean game for Winston.
Sunday's win marked the second straight game that Winston didn't turn the ball over. It's not a coincidence that the Bucs have won both of those two games. It allowed the Buccaneers to play with a lead the entire game, with a complementary effort by the defense to keep Carolina in check. Winston again made good decisions, scrambling when he had to. He was the team's leading rusher on the day, running five times for a total of 48 yards. His long came on an 18-yard scamper on second-and-11 on the Bucs' first drive of the game. It put the Bucs at the Carolina six-yard line, where three plays later Winston would toss a short pass to wide receiver Adam Humphries for the three-yard touchdown. The only blemish on the offense was a questionable fumble at the goal line by running back Peyton Barber that would have put the Bucs up 17-7 sooner. It didn't matter in the end, with the final score of 24-17 in favor of the good guys.
Bucs played with the lead again.
The Bucs scored on their first possession of the game and didn't let up once in the ensuing four quarters. Even when Carolina was threatening, the Bucs' defense managed to preserve the lead behind four interceptions, stopping the Panthers in their tracks. The offense did its part in scoring 24 points and it was another complete effort that led to a Bucs' victory. The Bucs are 4-1 when scoring first this season, their only loss coming against Atlanta in Week Six. Other than that, the Bucs scored first against the Saints in Week One, the Eagles in Week Two, the 49ers in Week 12 and now the Panthers in Week 13.
The defense dialed up the pressure.
Not only did the Bucs' defense manage four takeaways, they also managed four sacks. Quarterback Cam Newton was not comfortable and that turned out to be the key in a successful effort against him. Newton completed 28 of 41 pass attempts, two of which were for touchdowns, but four of which were picks. It resulted in a 66.2 passer rating for the Panthers' quarterback. The Bucs defense was able to get a hit on him nine times, including the four sacks that dropped him for a total loss of 24 yards. In addition, the defense managed five tackles for loss and a whopping 10 passes defensed. It was depth-men De'Vante Harris and Andrew Adams that accounted for the bulk of those 10 pass breakups with three each. The tackles for loss came courtesy of the defensive line along with linebacker Lavonte David. The immediate pressure by the line was crucial given the Bucs' secondary that was decimated with injury before the game was over. The Bucs had already been without cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart going into the game. Safeties Justin Evans and Isaiah Johnson both went down during the game leaving the Bucs without a single beginning-of-the-season starter in the secondary for the second half. Rough. But it's that 'next man up' mentality that kept the Bucs rolling. And roll they did, right to their second-straight win.