Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Series History: Buccaneers-Panthers

If the Buccaneers have their way, the Tampa Bay-Carolina series will end in a sweep for the eight straight season.

Pictures of the Panthers' starting offense and defense, according to the team's depth chart.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have one more chance for an intra-division sweep this season.

Tampa Bay opened the season with a rousing win in Atlanta but the Falcons got prime time revenge on Thursday night in Week Nine. The Buccaneers just finished an unusual home-and-away combo in a three-week span against New Orleans, but each team protected its home turf.

The Buccaneers' victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week Five was a turning point in the season. After a 1-3 start, Tampa Bay defeated their bitter division rivals, 17-14, on Monday Night Football in Charlotte. That began a 7-2 run that put the Buccaneers squarely in the NFC playoff hunt. Tampa Bay's postseason hopes have dimmed over the past two weeks, but a win over Carolina in the regular-season finale is part of a complicated scenario that could still result in a playoff spot.

Even if all the pieces don't fall right for that scenario to come to pass, the Buccaneers would still feel much better on Sunday with a season-ending win over the Panthers. That would result in their first sweep of Carolina since 2012 and their best record within the division (4-2) since 2007.

Tampa Bay's Week Five win in Charlotte loosened Carolina's stranglehold on the head-to-head series. The Panthers had won the previous six, dating back to 2013. If the Bucs can make it two in a row, it will mark the eighth straight season that one team or the other has swept. The Bucs were on top in 2010 and 2012 while the Panthers prevailed in 2009, 2011 and the most recent three seasons.

The Panthers still hold the overall series edge, 20-12, and all but three of those games have come since the two teams were paired in the NFC South during the NFL's 2002 realignment. The Bucs were on the Panthers' schedule in the latter team's inaugural 1995 season, a game that was actually played at Clemson. The visitors came away with a 20-13 win despite a strong showing by the expansion team, which put up 393 yards of offense. Tampa Bay's defense swung the decision in the visitors' favor with four takeaways and backup QB Casey Weldon won the game with a one-yard touchdown plunge.

Tampa Bay's road win in Week Five came down to a 38-yard field goal that rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo drilled down the middle as time expired. The Buccaneers had rallied impressively in front of a national audience, with quarterback Jameis Winston hitting Mike Evans on a 26-yard stop-and-go touchdown pass late in the third quarter. Winston then hit Adam Humphries for a successful two-point conversion to knot the score at 14-14. Most of the fourth quarter was scoreless thanks to two takeaways by the Buccaneers' defense, the most critical one a diving end zone interception by cornerback Brent Grimes. RB Jacquizz Rodgers, making his first start as a Buccaneer, ran for 101 yards, including 30 on the 66-yard game-winning drive.

The Panthers won twice in 2015, in a pair of games that looked somewhat similar on the scoreboard at the end but were really vastly different. In the first meeting, at Raymond James Stadium in Week Four, the Buccaneers rang up 411 yards of offense and 25 first downs to 244 and 17 for the visiting Panthers, but Carolina's defense intercepted Winston four times, with Pro Bowl CB Josh Norman returning one of them 46 yards for a touchdown. Carolina also scored on a fluky play in which Bucs S Chris Conte forced a fumble by RB Jonathan Stewart but the loose ball flew directly into the hands of TE Ed Dickson, who ran it 57 yards for a touchdown. That turned a close game into a two-touchdown lead for Carolina, which rolled from there to a 37-23 decision.

The rematch closed out the season, with the 14-1 Panthers playing host to the 6-9 Buccaneers in Charlotte. This time Carolina ran out to a 24-3 lead by halftime and eventually won 38-10. The total yards were nearly identical (386 for the Bucs to 366 for Carolina) but QB Cam Newton was coldly efficient throughout the day, completing 21 of 26 passes for two TDs and no picks and also running in a pair of touchdowns.

There were lopsided wins for both teams during those half-dozen years, but the 2014 season series featured two games decided by a total of eight points. The Panthers came to Tampa for the teams' shared season opener that year and Carolina won, 20-14, behind a 92-yard, one-touchdown debut from then-rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin. Backup QB Derek Anderson started in place of the injured Newton and threw eight passes to TE Greg Olsen for 83 yards and another score.

The Bucs and Panthers wouldn't get their 2014 rematch until Week 14, and the second game would be even closer. Tampa Bay took a 10-9 lead into halftime at Bank of America Stadium, helped by a Josh McCown eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans and a defense that forced Carolina to settle for four straight field goal tries (and three successes) on drives that reached the Bucs' 33-yard line or farther. The tide turned just after halftime, however, when Carolina ends Mario Addison and Charles Johnson sacked McCown and forced a fumble that the Panthers recovered at Tampa Bay's four-yard line. Anderson threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery two plays later and the home team never trailed again in a 19-17 decision.

Pictures of the Top 10 Panthers in Week 16, according to their Pro Football Focus player grade.

The last time the Bucs and Panthers each finished the season with a winning record was in 2008, and that was also the last time the season series ended in a split. Tampa Bay ran away with the first meeting at home in Week Six, with Warrick Dunn gaining 115 yards on 22 carries, the last of his 30 career 100-yard rushing games. However, the Panthers returned the favor in Week 14 on Monday Night Football, pulling away to a 38-23 win behind an incredible 299 rushing yards. DeAngelo Williams led the way with 186 yards and two scores and Jonathan Stewart (still the Panthers' starter in 2015) added 115 and two more scores. The Bucs also lost their next three games after that one to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs while Carolina won four of its last five and took the NFC South title.

The reverse happened in 2005, when the Panthers won handily in Tampa earlier in the season but the Buccaneers returned to Charlotte on Dec. 11 for what would essentially be a battle for first place. That was the middle leg of an unusual three-game road swing right in the heat of the playoff race for the Buccaneers, and they were decided underdogs to the 9-3 Panthers. Thanks largely to Ronde Barber and Cadillac Williams, however, the visitors controlled the action all day and eventually walked away with a 20-10 victory. Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns while Barber made an acrobatic and crucial interception near the Bucs' goal line in the fourth quarter. The victory put Tampa Bay into the top spot in the division and they eventually held on for the title at 11-5, winning a tiebreaker against the 11-5 Panthers.

The Panthers and Buccaneers also started their season together in 2012, with the Bucs winning, 16-10, on September 9. That outcome contributed to a 1-6 start for the Panthers while the Bucs used it to launch a 6-4 run, but both teams sat at 7-9 when it was all said and done. Doug Martin made his NFL debut with a 95-yard outing, Ronde Barber began his last NFL season with another critical late-game interception, and Connor Barth's three field goals made the difference in the final outcome. The Bucs needed a historically good run defense to pull out the win, holding Carolina to just 10 rushing yards on the game to tie a team record. The Bucs were particularly hard on Newton, who had put up enormous numbers against Tampa Bay's defense during his eye-opening rookie campaign in 2011. Newton threw for 303 yards but was intercepted twice, sacked three times and gained only four rushing yards on five carries. In the rematch in Charlotte, Newton led the Panthers to a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead but the Buccaneers mustered one of their most dramatic comebacks in years to win, 27-21, in overtime. WR Vincent Jackson sent the game into an extra period with his last-minute touchdown catch and the subsequent two-point conversion.

As for those 2011 numbers for Newton, however, they were quite a bit different.  In two wins over the Buccaneers, the dual-threat rookie accounted for four passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns and was not intercepted once.

The Panthers won both meetings handily in 2013 on their way to the division championship, outscoring the Bucs 58-19 overall. The first game was a nationally-televised Thursday-night affair in Tampa, in which Newton threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns and also ran 11 times for 50 yards and another score. Rookie QB Mike Glennon completed 30 of 51 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in that game, but the Bucs' offense couldn't get much going when it went to Charlotte for the rematch in early December. This time, Carolina's top-ranked defense sacked Glennon five times and picked him off once en route to an easy 27-6 decision.

Some of the most dramatic outcomes in the head-to-head Bucs-Panthers series have come from tight, low-scoring affairs. In 2002, during the Buccaneers' run to Super Bowl XXXVII, a Tampa Bay team playing without starting QB Brad Johnson found itself trailing, 9-3, in the fourth quarter. K Martin Gramatica finished off a four-for-four performance with three long field goals in the final period, the last one a 47-yard game-winner that backed up a defense that only allowed 130 total yards.

The very next season saw a Bucs-Panthers game end in a 12-9 final, but in a far less happy way for the Buccaneers. Coming off a dominant 17-0 win in Philadelphia in the 2003 season opener, the defending NFL champs stumbled in their home opener against Carolina, in part due to a single play that led to injuries to both Mike Alstott and Joe Jurevicius. Trailing 9-3, the Bucs' offense woke up just in time, with Johnson driving the team 82 yards in the last two minutes to set up a six-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell as time expired. An extra point would have won it, but Carolina DT Kris Jenkins blocked the attempt, sending the game to overtime and giving the Panthers a chance to eventually win it on John Kasay's field goal.

Series Notes:

  • Overall Season Series: Carolina leads, 20-12
  • Bucs' Home Record: 5-10
  • Bucs' Road Record: 7-10
  • Current Streak: Win 1 (2016)
  • Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 3 (1998-2002)
  • Panthers' Longest Winning Streak: 6 (2013-15)
  • Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 555, Panthers 709
  • Most Points in a Game, Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 31-16 (2010)
  • Most Points in a Game, Carolina: Panthers 48-16 (2011)
  • Most Points, both teams: 64, Panthers 48-16 (2011)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Tampa Bay: Panthers 24-0 (1996)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Carolina: Buccaneers 27-3 (2008)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: 21, twice: Buccaneers 12-9 (2002), Panthers 12-9 (2003)

Bucs' Game-by-Game Record vs. Panthers:

Year

Result

Site

1995

W, 20-13

Clemson

1996

L, 24-0

Charlotte

1998

W, 16-13

Tampa

2002

W, 12-9

Charlotte

2002

W, 23-10

Tampa

2003

L, 12-9

Tampa

2003

L, 27-24

Charlotte

2004

L, 21-14

Charlotte

2004

L, 37-20

Tampa

2005

L, 34-14

Tampa

2005

W, 20-10

Charlotte

2006

L, 26-24

Tampa

2006

L, 24-10

Charlotte

2007

W, 20-7

Charlotte

2007

L, 31-23

Tampa

2008

W, 27-3

Tampa

2008

L, 38-23

Charlotte

2009

L, 28-21

Tampa

2009

L, 16-6

Charlotte

2010

W, 20-7

Charlotte

2010

W, 31-16

Tampa

2011

L, 38-19

Tampa

2011

L, 48-16

Charlotte

2012

W, 16-10

Tampa

2012

W, 27-21

Charlotte

2013

L, 31-13

Tampa

2013

L, 27-6

Charlotte

2014

L, 20-14

Tampa

2014

L, 19-17

Charlotte

2015

L, 37-23

Tampa

2015

L, 38-10

Charlotte

2016

W, 17-14

Charlotte

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