Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rapid Reaction: Panthers 42, Buccaneers 28

The Bucs score 21 unanswered points but would ultimately fall to the division-rival Carolina Panthers, 42-28. 

RR---CAR

The Panthers won the toss and elected to defer, letting the Buccaneer offense with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick get to work right away. Two attempts at getting receiver Mike Evans the ball proved fruitless as the Bucs went three-and-out on their first possession.

The Bucs' defense returned the favor by getting pressure on quarterback Cam Newton on third-and-four, forcing a three-and-out from the Panthers on their first series.

On Fitzpatrick's first throw of the next drive, he ended up overthrowing his intended target of Mike Evans and was intercepted by safety Eric Reid. The ball was returned to the Bucs' 10-yard line setting up first-and-goal for the Panthers. The Bucs were hit on an unnecessary roughness penalty on Newton as he took the ball himself, giving them a fresh set of downs at the five-yard-line. Two plays later and fullback Alex Armah was into the end zone to put Carolina up 7-0 over the Bucs less than five minutes into the first quarter.

A first down on the Bucs next dive was negated by an illegal shift penalty. Faced with third-and-15, running back Jacquizz Rodgers took the handoff and got 15-yards for the first down. The Bucs would be forced to punt on the next set of downs, but pinned the Panthers at their own 12-yard line.

The Panthers were able to drive down the field on a couple of big runs, including a 32-yard run by running back Christian McCaffrey. The drive ended in another Carolina touchdown on a three-yard run by McCaffrey, putting the Panthers up 14-0 with 3:14 left in the first quarter.

The Bucs' next drive was productive and ended on a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard from Fitzpatrick. With the good extra point after, the Bucs started to close the gap, 14-7 at the start of the second quarter.

The Panthers answered right back on their next drive. Starting from their own 25-yard line the Carolina drive ended in a double reverse as Curtis Samuel ran it in from 33 yards out to put the Panthers up two scores again. Behind two sacks, the Bucs weren't able to get anything going on offense on their next possession and would be forced to punt.

The Panthers would start the next drive at midfield. McCaffrey broke a few tackles on his way down to the 10-yard line. It looked as if he stepped out and the Bucs would challenge the ruling on the field that he didn't. The call would stand and the Bucs' defense found themselves trying to keep the Carolina offense out of the end zone at the goal line. On third-and-goal at the one-yard line, McCaffrey eked it into the end zone to widen the gap 28-7 with 7:24 left in the half.

The Bucs went three-and-out on their next drive and actually faked the punt with Bryan Anger attempting a throw to tight end Alan Cross. The pass went incomplete and Carolina took over at their own 25-yard line. The Panthers capitalized on field position but were backed up to third-and-17 because of two penalties. Veteran tight end Greg Olsen made an impossible one-handed grab in the end zone to put the Panthers up 35-7 with 4:12 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bucs drove down the field on their next possession, determined to get something going. On fourth-and-goal from the two, they went for it and Fitzpatrick completed a slant to tight end O.J. Howard for his second touchdown of the day. The Bucs went into the half trailing 35-14.

The Panthers got the ball back to start the second half and would come up empty behind a big third-down sack where both defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David converged on Newton. Unfortunately, the Bucs would give the ball right back after a three-and-out and a huge tackle for loss on second down of running back Peyton Barber on their next possession.

The Bucs forced another three-and-out on the Panthers' next drive. It was defensive end Carl Nassib on second down that dropped Newton for a loss of 10 on second down, backing the Panthers up to a third-and-19 that they couldn't convert.

As the Bucs moved down the field on a mix of pass and run plays, wide receiver DeSean Jackson got more involved. He drew a defensive holding call on second down and 12 at the Carolina 25-yard line that got the Bucs a first-and-goal. Two plays later it was wide receiver Adam Humphries with a five-yard catch in the end zone to close the gap to two scores, 35-21, in the third quarter.

The Panthers burned through all three time outs in the third quarter. The Bucs stood the Panthers up on third down, preventing Newton from getting across the line of gain. The Panthers would go for it but get called on a false start before going for it anyway on fourth-and-six. The Panthers failed to convert and the Bucs took over on downs at their own 21 after a taunting penalty backed them up.

On the Bucs ensuing possession, Fitzpatrick was strip-sacked on second down but the ball was recovered by Ryan Jensen. On third-and-17, Fitzpatrick aired it out for wide receiver Chris Godwin down the right sideline, who hauled it in to pick up the first and keep the drive alive. Tight end O.J. Howard came up big on a 31-yard completion to get Tampa Bay to the Carolina 30-yard line. Fitzpatrick then connected with Humphries, who stretched out over the goal-line in what was initially ruled short. The Bucs would challenge the call and get it overturned for the touchdown, closing the gap to 35-28 just a couple minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Panthers answered with a touchdown even after being backed up to a first-and-24 situation on the Tampa Bay 28-yard line. McCaffrey gained nine on first down and on second down, Newton threw to Curtis Samuel for the 19-yard touchdown completion, putting the Panthers up 42-28 with 9:04 left in the game.

The Bucs wouldn't be able to get anything on their next drive and were forced to punt with five minutes left in the game. A long punt pinned the Panthers inside their own 10-yard line. The Bucs' defense got the stop and the Panthers were forced to punt, leaving Tampa Bay 3:45 to get two scores.

On the Bucs' first play following the stop, Fitzpatrick was intercepted down the sideline by Donte Jackson on a pass intended for DeSean Jackson, giving the ball back to Carolina. The Bucs took their last timeout and both teams would not be able to stop the clock with just over three minutes to play. Newton was able to take one himself and get the first down, taking the clock to the two-minute warning.

From there, the Panthers were able to run the clock down and the Bucs fell to 3-5 on the season with a final score of 42-28 in Carolina.

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