The big news coming into the game, of course, was that the Panthers would be without starting quarterback Cam Newton. We start the Twitter feed with a note from the Ledger's Rick Brown and some Bucs moves and inactives courtesy of Bucs.com Senior Writer Scott Smith.
The Bucs won the coin toss, deferring to the second half, giving Carolina the first possession of the day. The Panthers began at the 15-yard line and immediately started their march down field.
The drive stalled near the goal line as Carolina failed on third-and-goal and the Bucs defense is able to limit the early Carolina surge to just three points.
The Buccaneers would take their first possession from the 20-yard line. Second play of the drive:
DOUG MARTIN. — Leo (@LeoHowell8) December 14, 2014
On the next third down play from the Carolina eight-yard line, the Buccaneers strike with an opening drive touchdown that got the national accounts excited.
The Panthers again constructed a strong drive with four quick first downs into Buccaneers territory, but an offensive holding penalty would put them in a hole too deep to come out of and they'd leave their second possession with three more points.
The Buccaneers, however, received some big injury news on the drive.
The Tampa Bay offense took the field again and led us out of the first quarter before being forced to punt the ball back to Carolina.
For the third time, the Panthers drive ended in a field goal attempt, but the Bucs would get the ball back in good field position with their one-point lead after this one.
Bucs take over at the Panther 41-yard line and get another drive started on the ground with Doug Martin.
Martin would add another first down carry, taking himself to 90 rushing yards on the day and moving the Bucs to the Panthers' 42-yard line. The drive would stall on a third-down sack and the Bucs would put it down to the 11-yard line. Again, the Panthers moved their way downfield one play at a time.
With 1:30 left in the half, the Panthers took shots toward the end zone from the Bucs' 20-yard line to try to take the lead before halftime.
The Bucs defense would again bend but not break, giving the Panthers just a field goal attempt.
With just over a minute left and all three timeouts, the Bucs put together a condensed two-minute drill, trying to move from the 20 to at least field goal range before the whistle.
Good play by the rookie to get out of bounds. Now only 36 seconds left. Long way to go. — Rick Brown (@LedgeronBucs) December 14, 2014
The Buccaneers would get the first possession of the second half. Backed up at their 15-yard line, the Panthers would wind up with great field position after the third-down play.
Two plays later.
The Carolina defense was pumped up again on the next Bucs possession, pressuring the run and the pass and forcing another Tampa Bay three-and-out. The Panthers offense again marched down the field
And the Bucs would take that momentum away.
Verner channeling his inner Peanut Tillman and stripping Jonathan. First down Bucs. — Rick Brown (@LedgeronBucs) December 14, 2014
Carolina continued their pressure on Josh McCown and the Buccaneers would punt it away giving Carolina the ball inside Bucs' territory. A big sack started a big Bucs stop and Carolina was forced to punt.
Starting from the eight-yard line, a Charles Sims rush would get them out of trouble, but again the punting unit would be called in after three plays. Carolina ball from the Bucs' 48. The defense again held.
Tampa Bay took over and for the first time of the half, the offense started to get things rolling.
And the Buccaneers nearly took it right back.
From there, the Panthers continued their drive.
Gano would return to the field and hit his fourth FG of the day, making it a two-possession game.
With 8:31 left in the game, the Bucs offense took the field looking to move the chains and stay in the game, and that they did.
Third-and-11 from the 16.
The Panthers offense took the field with three minutes left in the game and got two quick first downs.
The Buccaneers used all their timeouts, leading us to the 1:15 mark in the game. Panthers ball, third-and-eight.
Thirty seconds to go, with no timeouts, the Bucs needed to take the ball from their 10-yard line to try to get in field goal range for a chance to take home the win.
Incomplete. 15 seconds left. — Rick Brown (@LedgeronBucs) December 14, 2014
End of game.