K Martin Gramatica had three of his four attempts blocked on Sunday, including an extra point that would have won the game in regulation
Has delirium ever turned to nausea so quickly before in Raymond James Stadium?
Sunday afternoon against the visiting Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drove 82 yards in 109 seconds with no timeouts to tie the game at 9-9. Just minutes later, after Keenan McCardell's touchdown catch in the back of the end zone with no time left was upheld by replay, DT Kris Jenkins blocked Martin Gramatica's extra point attempt and the game, stunningly, went into overtime.
It was the second block of the day for Jenkins and the third of the game for the Panthers, who denied field goal attempts in the second and fourth quarters by, each time blasting straight up the middle over the interior of the Bucs' line.
"We got overpowered inside, that was it," said Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden.
The nausea was complete 11 and a half minutes later when John Kasay kicked a 47-yard field goal, his fourth of the game, to give Carolina the 12-9 victory. Tampa Bay lost its home opener in overtime for the second consecutive year, once again bitten by special teams. Last year, a botched punt turned into an end zone interception against the New Orleans Saints; this year, it was Steve Smith's 53-yard punt return that set up the game-winning kick.
Last October, when the Buccaneers beat the Panthers 12-9 in Charlotte, the game was the very definition of winning ugly. Or so we thought. That term was redefined on Sunday by an incredible 33 combined penalties between the two teams. Tampa Bay gained 397 yards of offense on the day but saw that eaten away again and again by penalties, 17 in all for 168 yards. Though both marks fell short off the all-time team records - 20 and 190 in a 1976 games against Seattle - it was easily the team's most-penalized game in decades.
This time, it will be the Panthers, who committed 16 penalties of their own for 120 yards, who exult in the 'ugly win.' Carolina gained just 258 yards in five quarters, including just 87 net yards through the air, but moved to 2-0 and into sole possession of first place in the NFC South. The Bucs, at 1-1, are tied with Atlanta and New Orleans.
The Bucs also lost WR Joe Jurevicius to a right knee sprain in the third quarter. An update on the gritty receiver wasn't available by the end of the game, but Jurevicius had to be taken off the field on a cart.
Sunday's game fell exactly three months after Flag Day (June 14), but it seemed even farther removed from last Monday's complete domination of the Philadelphia Eagles. The flurry of yellow flags was seemingly endless, and they included repeated holding penalties and personal fouls. Carolina even committed a false start before the game-winning kick but Kasay wasn't bothered by the extra yards.
It got so bad that at one point in the third quarter the field was littered with yellow hankies on what appeared to be a harmless punt into the end zone for a touchback (each team was flagged for illegal substitution when CB Brian Kelly tried to pick the ball up and return it and both benches had already spilled onto the field).
Even with the repeated setbacks, the Bucs had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Brad Johnson and the offense got the ball back at the Buccaneers' 18 with 1:49 left on the clock and no timeouts. Amazingly, Johnson drove the team the length of the field, helped by a 43-yard completion to Karl Williams into Carolina territory. After Keyshawn Johnson's catch at the six-yard line and a spike to kill the clock with six seconds left, Johnson took what seemed like an eternity in the pocket before delivering a touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell in the back of the end zone. The play was reviewed and upheld.
That's when Jenkins blocked Gramatica's extra point, just as he had done a 38-yard field goal in the first half. Lester Towns also blocked a 48-yard try by Gramatica in the second half.
Johnson threw a career-high and team-record 61 passes, completion 34 of them for 339 yards, one touchdown and one interception despite playing much of the fourth quarter with a strained groin.
"I thought he had one of the greater performances I've ever been around," said Gruden.
Keyshawn Johnson led the team with 102 yards on nine catches and McCardell had 53 yards on five receptions. The Bucs were only able to pick up 60 yards on 22 carries, however.
For the game, Carolina QB Jake Delhomme was held to just 96 yards on nine of 23 passing and was intercepted twice. Tampa Bay's defense, ranked number one to Carolina's number two last season, allowed only four third-down conversions in 17 tries but bent for field goal drives at the beginning of each half. RB Stephen Davis, imported by Carolina to give John Fox's team an inside running threat, gained 50 yards on his first five carries and eventually finished with 142 yards on 33 carries. Of Carolina's 258 yards, 171 came on the ground.
The Bucs may have been a bit stunned to be losing 6-0 at halftime, given the 190 yards of offense they compiled with a collection of medium-range passes by QB Brad Johnson. The Panthers had just 107 yards at that point, 70 of which came on their opening drive. However, a late interception by DE Al Wallace killed the Bucs' chance to tie the game at 3-3 before the half, instead giving Carolina a second field-goal opportunity.
Credit RB Michael Pittman for not giving up as he chased Wallace down from behind and caught him at the Tampa Bay seven. Carolina's resulting field goal drive actually lost 11 yards before John Kasay's 35-yard kick.
For the third straight regular season game, the Bucs did not allow an offensive touchdown. That was of scant comfort to the defending World Champions, who have now lost their home opener in three of the last six seasons.
The real problem for the Buccaneers in the first half – other than Wallace's interception, which came on a middle screen pass attempt to TE Ken Dilger – was the rash of penalties. Shortly before Wallace's pick, DT Warren Sapp was flagged 15 yards for taunting LB Brian Allen after making the block on Allen that allowed FB Mike Alstott to pick up a first down on third-and-one.
The Panthers also had trouble with the flags, taking eight penalties for 70 yards in the first half, including two in success after Wallace gave them the ball at the seven.
Carolina scored first on an impressive, 70-yard drive keyed by Davis' running. The big back picked up 50 yards on five carries, most of them on three breakaway runs right up the middle of the defense. The Bucs kept the Panthers out of the end zone when S Dwight Smith made a leaping, third-down pass breakup, but the visitors dented the scoreboard with a 28-yard John Kasay field goal. The Panthers also opened the third quarter with a 70-yard field goal drive.
Notes: Last season, eight teams started the season 2-0, and only one of those eight eventually made the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders advanced all the way to the Super Bowl after their 0-2 start, but Denver, Carolina, New England, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami and San Diego all squandered their 2-0 starts. … Simeon Rice's sack in the third quarter extended the Buccaneers' astounding streak to 62 consecutive games with at least one sack. The NFL record is 68, set by the Dallas Cowboys from 1976-80. Rice, who led the NFC in 2002 with 15.5 sacks, already has three through two games … Similarly, Brian Kelly's interception in the third quarter pushed Tampa Bay's streak of consecutive games with at least one takeaway to 43. That is the third-longest run in the NFL in that category over the last 20 years. … DT Warren Sapp made his 117th NFL start on Sunday, all for the Buccaneers. It is a milestone of sorts in that is exactly how many starts Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon made for Tampa Bay. Sapp begins the 2003 season needing just seven sacks to pass Selmon (78.5) for the top spot on the franchise's all-time chart. … T Roman Oben played in his 100th career NFL game on Sunday. Oben has started 95 of those games, all at left tackle. … John Kasay's first-quarter field goal accounted for the first points scored against Tampa Bay in 12 regular-season quarters. The Bucs did not allow a point in the last three quarters of a Week 16 loss to Pittsburgh, then shut out Chicago in the '02 finale and Philadelphia in the '03 opener. … For the second straight week, the Bucs were seemingly helped by an opposing coach's decision regarding instant replay. Last week, the Eagles surprisingly reviewed a short pass that resulted in Simeon Rice being credited with a sack and forced fumble. This week, Carolina chose not to challenge a possible catch of a deep pass by WR Steve Smith, perhaps thinking Smith had fumbled and the result would be a turnover. The Panthers then had to punt when Davis was stopped on a third-and-one carry by Warren Sapp and John Lynch. … The Buccaneers helped the Raymond James Stadium crowd get properly fired up for the game by playing a fan-pleasing highlight package prior to the game on the stadium's huge videoboards. The piece showed highlights from each of the Bucs' regular season and playoff wins, culminating in the 48-21 victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII. Among the plays that drew the largest reactions from the crowd were Derrick Brooks' interception return against Sat. Louis, Mike Alstott's tackle-breaking, 19-yard run against Cleveland, the string of interceptions against Green Bay QB Brett Favre, Joe Jurevicius' 71-yard catch-and-run at Philadelphia, Ronde Barber's game-clinching interception and touchdown in the NFC Championship Game and Brooks' interception in the Super Bowl. The pregame ceremony also featured an inflatable Lombardi Trophy and a giant red Buccaneer flag.
Injury Updates: WR Joe Jurevicius left the game in the third quarter with a right knee sprain.
Quarter Reports: During Sunday's game, Buccaneers.com provided game updates at the end of each quarter. Those updates follow to offer a closer look at the game's key plays.
First Quarter Update
Carolina needed just one drive to do what Philadelphia couldn't do in four quarters last week, scoring on their opening drive to take a 3-0 lead. Those were the only points of the first quarter, and consecutive penalties to end the period put Tampa Bay in a huge hole to start the second period.
The Buccaneers won the opening toss and got out to their own 23 on Aaron Stecker's kickoff return. The first play of the game was a shallow out to WR Joe Jurevicius on the left side for a five-yard gain. After a short pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson left the Bucs just inches short of the first down, RB Michael Pittman followed a Mike Alstott block up the middle for a gain of two and a first down.
Pittman gashed up the middle for another nine yards on the next snap off an interesting personnel grouping in which he, Alstott and RB Thomas Jones were all on the field together. Alstott and Jones started out in the backfield, but a shift split those two backs wide to the right and brought Pittman back into a one-back set. On second down, Jones got the carry and lost a yard, setting up third-and-two from the Bucs' 43.
On third down, QB Brad Johnson called an audible at the line and hit K. Johnson on a quick slant on the left side, picking up 10 yards into Carolina territory. Enjoying a long time in the pocket on first down, B. Johnson then fired a 13-yard strike to Jurevicius down to the Carolina 34. B. Johnson thought he had room to run around right end on the next play but was quickly trapped by Shane Burton and Al Wallace for a sack of two yards.
A quick pass down the sideline to K. Johnson on second down failed to pick up a yard thanks to S Deon Grant's quick reaction, leaving the Bucs in a third-and-12 at the 36. B. Johnson again had a long time to survey the field, but he eventually had to dump a short pass off to TE Todd Yoder, and it fell incomplete. Tom Tupa's punt then snuck into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Panthers thus started at their own 20 and threw on first down off a play-action fake to RB Stephen Davis. QB Jake Delhomme fired a pass to WR Steve Smith on the right sideline but CB Brian Kelly closed quickly to knock it out of Smith's hands. However, on second down, Davis got the handoff and flashed through the line of scrimmage for a 17-yard gain.
Davis' next carry, a toss left, gained just two yards thanks to Derrick Brooks' tackle, but another run off left guard worked again, out to midfield for another first down. The Panthers then brought in RB DeShaun Foster for a sweep right, but Kelly dropped him after a gain of just one. A short pass over the middle to Smith was stopped by Kelly after just a two-yard gain, setting up third-and-seven. A blitz look caused the Panthers to false start, making it third-and-12. Delhomme got great protection on the next snap, however, and eventually found WR Muhsin Muhammad wide open over the middle for a gain of 22 down to the Bucs' 31.
Davis continued to find success up the middle, breaking free again on the next play for a run of 20 yards down to the 11. Davis had less luck on his next carry, picking up just one yard off right guard, and a short pass to TE Kris Mangum on second down gained nothing. On third-and-nine from the 10, Delhomme tried to hit TE Jermaine Wiggins over the middle but S Dwight Smith made a leaping break-up halfway into the end zone. The Panthers settled for John Kasay's 28-yard field goal, the first points allowed by Tampa Bay in 2003.
The Bucs' next drive started at their own 20 but went backwards two yards when DT Kris Jenkins dropped Pittman in the backfield on first down. WR Keenan McCardell then made an acrobatic, toe-dragging catch on the left sideline to pick up six yards and K. Johnson got the first down with a 13-yard catch in the middle of three Panther defenders. B. Johnson found Dilger on an impressive pass on the next snap but the play was erased by a holding penalty on Cosey Coleman. The Bucs were also penalized on the next play, pushing them back to their own 21 as the quarter came to an end.
Second Quarter Update
Tampa Bay's offense was productive in terms of yardage in the first half but had trouble cracking the scoreboard and went into the intermission trailing the visiting Carolina Panthers, 6-0. The Bucs outgained Carolina 190 to 107 yards, but John Kasay's two field goals were the only scores of the half. The Bucs had difficulty overcoming five costly penalties in the half, as did the Panthers, who were flagged eight times for 70 yards.
The Bucs faced a first-and-26 at their own 21 when the second quarter began and were unable to climb out of that hole. A first-down pass to WR Joe Jurevicius picked up only two yards and a second-down slant to WR Keyshawn Johnson was thrown behind the intended target. QB Brad Johnson did find TE Ken Dilger for a 13-yard gain on third down, but that was well short of the first down. P Tom Tupa did give the defense a boost with a booming 49-yard punt that dangerous return man Steve Smith had to fair catch at his own 15.
The Panthers stayed with RB Stephen Davis up the middle and he immediately ripped off a nine-yard carry up the middle. WR Steve Smith nearly made a sparkling catch off a Jake Delhomme bomb on second down but was ruled to have dropped the ball when he hit the ground. That set up third-and-one, and this time Davis was stopped by Warren Sapp and John Lynch as he tried to pound up the middle again. Strong-legged Todd Sauerbrun blasted a 51-yard punt and the Bucs started anew at their own 26.
That drive got off to a bad start when Kenyatta Walker was flagged for a personal foul on first down, setting up first-and-23. However, a 13-yard pass to Dilger on the left sideline got those yards back. On second-and-10, B. Johnson found K. Johnson over the middle again and the tough receiver held on for a 15-yard gain despite a de-cleater by S Deon Grant.
From the Bucs' 41, B. Johnson was forced to scramble and throw the ball away, but RB Michael Pittman slashed over left tackle for a 16-yard gain on second down. That gave Tampa Bay a first down at the Panthers' 43, but a broken-play pass to RB Aaron Stecker gained only two yards. On the next pass, a well-formed pocket gave B. Johnson time to zip a hard pass over the middle to WR Keenan McCardell, who held on for an 18-yard gain despite another hard hit from the Panther secondary at the 23.
Pittman's first-down carry got two yards and a pass to the same back on second down was tipped at the line. Jurevicius slipped on a third-down pass, leading the Bucs to try a 38-yard field goal and Kris Jenkins leaped high to block it. Not only were the Bucs denied a score, but Carolina took over at their own 47 after the change of possession.
The Bucs defense responded by forcing a third-and-24, thanks to two penalties and two hard hits by S John Lynch. The Panthers played it safe, giving it to Davis, who sprinted around left end for eight yards. However, Sauerbrun then boomed a 56-yard punt that bounced straight up at the three-yard line and was downed there by the Panthers.
Fortunately for the Buccaneers, DE Mike Rucker was flagged for a personal foul on the first snap, getting the ball all the way out to the 19. A nice misdirection pass to Jurevicius picked up 11 yards out to the 30, and two plays later K. Johnson made a diving catch at the left sideline for a gain of 22 more.
A pass to Pittman and a run by the same man gained just four yards to the Carolina 43, and a third-down pass to Jurevicius came up short. However, the Panthers were flagged for offsides, making it third-and-one and giving the Bucs another chance from the 38.
With Sapp in on offense after the two-minute warning, the Bucs lined up in a power package but B. Johnson didn't like what he saw and signaled for a timeout. In the same alignment, FB Mike Alstott powered up the middle for two yards and a first down, but a dead-ball personal foul on DT Warren Sapp moved the Bucs back to their own 49 and set up first-and-10. That became first-and-five after an encroachment penalty on Carolina, and a short pass to Alstott picked up four yards. After a dropped pass on second-and-one, the Bucs brought in the power package again but pitched it around left end to Pittman, who picked up steam and bashed through Grant for a gain of three and a first down at the Panthers' 39.
The Bucs used their second timeout with 1:03 remaining, then tried a screen over the middle that proved disastrous. DE Al Wallace intercepted the pass and returned it 53 yards to the Bucs' seven, though he was denied a touchdown by a hustling Pittman, who dragged Wallace down from behind.
On first down, Delhomme faked a handoff to Davis and rolled out right, but his pass to Muhsin Muhammad was overthrown. Davis was stuffed on second down, but the Panthers were flagged for holding anyway, making it second-and-goal from the 17 with 37 seconds left. Yet another personal foul on the Panthers cost the visitors 15 yards and made it second-and-goal from the 32.
A draw-play run by DeShaun Foster got 14 yards down to the 18 and set up third-and-goal with 24 seconds left. Delhomme tried to hit Muhammad on a deep slant near the goal line but underthrew it, leading to John Kasay's 35-yard field goal.
After a long Thomas Jones kickoff return was erased by a penalty, the Bucs knelt to kill the last three seconds of the half.
Third Quarter Update
Tampa Bay finally got on the board in the third quarter, but its field goal only served to balance the one posted by Carolina and the Bucs still trailed by six when the fourth quarter began. In addition, the Panthers had driven down to their own 45 when the period came to an end. By the end of the third quarter, Tampa Bay had gained 233 yards of offense but lost 128 back on a stunning 12 penalties.
Carolina got the ball to start the second half and immediately got the ball into Buccaneer territory. From the Carolina 28, QB Jake Delhomme completed a deep out to WR Steve Smith for a gain of 14. He then found WR Muhsin Muhammad on a 20-yard post over the middle down to Tampa Bay's 38.
RB Stephen Davis, who had a big first half, picked up just three yards trying to get around left tackle, but WR Ricky Proehl was wide open on the left sideline on second down for a gain of eight to the Bucs' 27. A roughing the passer penalty made it first down at the 13, but Delhomme's first-down pass to FB Brad Hoover was overthrown in the end zone and a second-down incompletion was erased by offsetting penalties. The Panthers then false-started to make it second-and-15 from the Bucs' 18.
After good coverage led to a second-down throwaway, a pitch left to Davis was stopped for no gain by CB Ronde Barber. However, just as the Panther field goal unit was coming onto the field, both DE Ellis Wyms and LB Derrick Brooks were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Panthers were given a new first down at the Bucs' nine.
Davis tried two carries up the middle but was stopped for a total of six yards. On third-and-goal, a fade pass to Muhammad was overthrown and the Panthers once again settled for a John Kasay field goal, this one from 20 yards out. The Panthers led 9-0 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bucs penalty woes continued on the next drive, as a holding penalty on the kickoff return and the first play immediately moved the offense back to its own seven. Two plays later, yet another holding penalty was declined after an incompletion, leading to a difficult third-and-13. QB Brad Johnson was forced into a hurried incompletion and the Bucs had to punt out of their own end zone.
Tom Tupa responded with a hanging, 56-yard punt, but yet another penalty, this one a 15-yard facemask foul, put Carolina at the Bucs' 43.
Delhomme's first pass was tipped at the line by Sapp, but still caught by Muhammad for a gain of three. After Davis' run up the middle was stopped by Nate Webster for a gain of just one and the Panthers committed a false start, DE Simeon Rice sacked Delhomme violently from behind, causing a fumble. The ball refused to come to rest in any player's hands, however, going out of bounds to allow Carolina to punt.
The Bucs started at their own 20 after a touchback, but got to midfield on passes of 11 yards to Mike Alstott and 18-yards to Michael Pittman. WR Keyshawn Johnson dropped a potential big-gainer over the middle and Brad Johnson's next pass was just a bit too high for WR Joe Jurevicius to pull down. On third-and-15, after a false start, Alstott appeared to get 12 yards on a short pass but the play was actually a total disaster. First, Jurevicius was injured when he collided with Alstott at the end of the play and, second, the Bucs were hit with a holding penalty to lose another 10 yards. A short pass to Aaron Stecker (and a declined penalty on the Bucs' offensive line) led to a punt, and Tupa blasted it 57 yards to force Carolina back to their own 13.
Davis got nine yards on a pair of carries, picking up seven on a pitch left thanks to a nice spin move in open field. On third-and-one, the Bucs got the big play they needed when CB Brian Kelly intercepted a pass intended for Steve Smith at the Carolina 28.
After a crack at the end zone with Keyshawn Johnson failed, the Bucs picked up five yards on a sideline pass to WR Keenan McCardell. A third-down pass to Pittman was incomplete and Martin Gramatica came on to try a 41-yard field goal. Gramatica put it through the pipes to finally get the Bucs on the board, down 9-3.
A short kickoff and a 21-yard return by Rod Smart allowed Carolina to start its next drive at their own 35. Davis' first carry picked up nine yards but he was stopped for no gain by Rice on second-and-one. On third-and-one, Delhomme took it himself on a sneak and got just enough for a first down, bringing the third quarter to an end.
Fourth Quarter Update
In one of the most memorable fourth quarters in franchise history, Tampa Bay pulled into a 9-9 tie with the Carolina Panthers on a last-play touchdown reception. However, the extra point, amazingly, was blocked and that sent the game into overtime.=
The fourth quarter began marvelously for the Buccaneers. On first down from his own 46, Carolina QB Jake Delhomme tried to drop back for a short pass to RB Stephen Davis over the middle, but DE Simeon Rice reached up to deflect the pass and catch it himself. The interception gave Tampa Bay possession at Carolina's 46, and a defensive holding penalty made it first down at the 41.
QB Brad Johnson was nearly sacked by DE Mike Rucker on first down, but he managed to get off a last-second flip to RB Michael Pittman for a gain of one. On second down, Johnson's pass over the middle to FB Mike Alstott just fell incomplete, leading to a third-and-nine that became third-and-14 after a false start. The following pass downfield to WR Keenan McCardell was well-covered and too high to corral. The Bucs had to punt, and Tom Tupa did his job perfectly, dropping a high kick inside the five that bounced sideways and out of bounds at the four.
The Bucs' defense did its job, stopping Carolina on three plays, all runs. On third-and-eight, DeShaun Foster got it on a delay and picked up five yards but was eventually stopped by LB Derrick Brooks. After the punt, the Bucs had the ball again at their own 42.
Pittman's first-down run got nothing, but WR Keyshawn Johnson made an acrobatic catch, despite pass interference for a 12-yard gain and a first down at the Carolina 46. An outlet pass to TE Ken Dilger picked up four yards, though LB Brian Allen reacted well to keep it from becoming a big gain. On second down, B. Johnson took a quick look at K. Johnson on the left sideline, then decided to zip a hard pass in to TE Todd Yoder for a first down at the 34.
From there, Pittman got the ball on a toss-sweep right and slipped by two potential tackles to pick up five yards. Two plays later, on third-and-five, WR Karl Williams couldn't hang onto a hard pass with a defender on his back, bringing up fourth down. Martin Gramatica tried again to kick a field goal but, for the second time in the game, had it blocked. The Panthers thus took over at their own 37 with 8:18 remaining.
FB Brad Hoover got two yards on a first-down carry into the grasp of LB Ryan Nece. After an incompletion, the Bucs blitzed on third down and Delhomme's quick slant to WR Steve Smith was broken up when CB Tim Wansley and S John Lynch hit the receiver from both sides.
The Bucs got the ball back at their own 24 but went three-and-out. After two incompletions, Alstott tried to fight through two tackles on the left sideline but came up three yards short on the seven-yard catch. Fortunately, Tupa followed with a 59-yard punt that bounced down to the Panthers' 10.
However, three plays later on third-and-seven, Delhomme completed a critical 11-yard pass to Smith to give Carolina a first down at its own 23. Delhomme did it again three plays later, scrambling to his left under pressure and finding Muhsin Muhammad for a gain of 16 and a first down at the 43.
A false start and a pitch to Davis for six yards made it second-and-nine at the 44 and the Bucs used their second timeout to stop the clock at 2:18. Davis went around left tackle for four yards, leading to another Buccaneer timeout, and he was stopped three yards short on a pitch right on third down as the two-minute warning arrived. Todd Sauerbrun then punted from midfield and Williams returned it from the 10 to the 18.
B. Johnson's first-down pass was in K. Johnson's direction but nearly intercepted by S Deon Grant. On second down, WR Karl Williams got wide open down the left sideline after a B. Johnson pump fake and the quarterback hit him for a 53-yard completion to the Panthers' 39.
WR Keenan McCardell nearly made a toe-dragging catch deep down the left sideline two plays but couldn't get his feet inbounds. On third-and-10, B. Johnson found Pittman on the left sideline and the back made a great play to jump through tacklers and get the first down and get out of bounds.
After a 10-yard pass to Pittman, the Bucs tried to get the next play off quickly but TE Ken Dilger jumped and that led to a five-yard penalty and a 10-second run off down to 31 seconds. After a Grant nearly made another interception, B. Johnson found K. Johnson over the middle in the end zone but the receiver couldn't hold on for the touchdown.
However, K. Johnson made a leaping catch at the six and the Bucs hustled up to stop the clock on a spike with five seconds left. On the Bucs' last possible play, B. Johnson stood in the pocket for what seemed like an eternity, but eventually found McCardell alone at the back of the end zone for a touchdown pass. The officials then reviewed the play and upheld it. However, the extra point was blocked, sending the game into overtime.
Tampa Bay's amazing fourth-quarter comeback went for naught when Carolina won the game in overtime, 12-9, on John Kasay's 47-yard field goal. The game only went into an extra period because the extra point that would have ended the game at the end of regulation for Tampa Bay was blocked by DT Kris Jenkins.
Carolina won the toss to start overtime but Martin Gramatica sent his kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.
On first down, RB Stephen Davis tripped in the backfield and lost two yards, though he was able to slice up the middle for seven yards on the next play. On third-and-10, after a false start, the Bucs nearly intercepted a Jake Delhomme pass over the middle, but S Dwight Smith was flagged for roughing the passer, leading to a first down at the 35.
That led to another Davis carry, and he plowed up the gut for a gain of five. LB Ryan Nece dropped Davis in the open field on second down after a gain of two, setting up third-and-three from the 42. Delhomme tried to roll right and throw downfield, but the Bucs got to him, forcing an incompletion and a punt.
Todd Sauerbrun's kick was shanked off the side of his foot, but it took a favorable Carolina bounce down to the Bucs' 18. Moments later, a personal foul on the Panthers gave the Bucs 15 yards out to their own 37. On first down, QB Brad Johnson found WR Keyshawn Johnson on the left sideline for a gain of nine, and FB Mike Alstott's second-down carry came up a yard short. On third-and-one from the 46, the Bucs brought in DT Warren Sapp and a jumbo package and Alstott powered over left tackle for three yards and a first down at the 49.
Unfortunately, a holding penalty pushed the Bucs back 10 yards, before Johnson found WR Keenan McCardell over the middle for a gain of 18. On second-and-two, RB Aaron Stecker got his first carry of the game and made it around left end for a gain of seven down to the 36.
Stecker's next run was stopped immediately by Kris Jenkins, and a false start followed to make it second-and-15. After an incompletion, Johnson audibled to a pitch left to Stecker but the play was completely stopped by Carolina for a loss of one.
On the ensuing punt, WR Steve Smith made the special teams play of the game by returning Tupa's 34-yard punt 52 yards to the Bucs' 40. Davis then swept around right end for 10 more yards down to the 30. Rod Smart plowed safely into the middle on first down but got just one yard. He got four more on second down, then the Panthers gave it back to Davis on third-and-five. He got just one, but that was enough to set up Kasay's 47-yard, game-winning field goal, even after a false-start penalty tacked on five yards.