LONDON-- In a game mired by turnovers, penalties & bad offensive line play, the Carolina Panthers (4-2) forced seven turnovers including five interceptions to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-26. The Panthers converted four of the Buccaneers turnovers into 20 points, leading Tampa Bay to losing their second game in a row.
Tampa Bay (2-4) received the opening kickoff but their opening possession lasted just one play from scrimmage after quarterback Jameis Winston had his first pass of the game picked off by cornerback James Bradbury. Although Carolina was unable to move the ball into the redzone, the turnover led to them putting the first points of the game on the scoreboard when kicker Joey Slye drilled a 49 yard field goal to make the score 3-0.
The Buccaneers next two possession lasted slightly longer but resulted in no points. And following the second of unproductive possessions by the Buccaneers, the Panthers went nearly the full distance of the football field to take a 10-0 lead.
Following a punt by the Buccaneers that pinned them down on their own one yard line, the Panthers got a third down conversion inside their own 10 on a pass from quarterback Kyle Allen to wide receiver D.J. Moore for six yards. That led to two more big passes by Allen, who threw for 227 yards, one that got the Panthers inside the Buccaneers territory, the other inside the redzone, Two runs by McCaffrey put the ball on the one yard line. And after a failed quarterback sneak, the running back pushed his way into the redzone for the touchdown on fourth down, that was confirmed by replay.
Like Carolina, Tampa Bay used a turnover to get their first points of the game. After another three & out, the Buccaneers punted the ball away but that punt was mishandled by return man Ray-Ray McCloud & recovered by linebacker Kevin Minter. One play after Winston set up a screen pass to tight end O.J. Howard for a 30 yard gain, running back Ronald Jones II hit a hole on the right side for a five yard touchdown run.
With the score 10-7, it took the Panthers two possessions before they made the lead 10 again. And just like their first points of the game, this touchdown drive came following another Winston interception. Winston's first interception was a pass intended for wide receiver Mike Evans. This time he was trying to hit wide receiver Bobo Wilson. But former Buccaneers cornerback Javien Elliot went to turf to catch the ball after Winston had his pass deflected. That second interception gave the Panthers the football on the Buccaneers 36 yard line. And after converting again on a third down pass to Moore, Allen threw a short pass to a wide open McCaffrey on the left side. After a few moves plus a stiff arm, the running back went into the endzone from 25 yards away to make the score 17-7.
Before the half ended, both teams had an opportunity to put more points on the scoreboard. First, the Buccaneers had a chance at a big play but Evans dropped a long pass from Winston after getting behind the Panthers secondary. And the Panthers were able to set Slye up for a free kick but the attempt from 60 yards away failed as the half ended.
The first half ended with the Buccaneers gaining more yards than the Panthers but they also turned the ball over three times plus committed six penalties & allowed Winston to be sacked six times.
On their second possession of the final thirty minutes, Carolina was able to use one play to get into Tampa Bay territory when Allen completed a 30 yard pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel. That led to another Slye field goal. This kick was good from 46 yards.
But the numbers 20 & seven only lasted on the scoreboard for 16 seconds because after getting the ball back, Winston threw his third interception of the game. The quarterback's pass over the middle was snatched by linebacker Luke Kuechly. And the score became 27-7 one play later, after Samuel came from his wide receiver position & took a handoff eight yards for the touchdown.
After yielding 10 points in 16 seconds, the Buccaneers got three points back on a 54 yard field goal by Matt Gay. But the Panthers ended a 75 yard drive at the start of the fourth quarter with another touchdown by Samuel. This time the wide receiver beat cornerback Carlton Davis on a fade pattern to the right for a 13 yard touchdown play making the score 34-10.
The Buccaneers got within two scores when they put together their own 75 yard drive.The drive ended with Winston throwing a 10 yard touchdown pass to tight end Cam Brate. And they were able to convert the two point attempt when Winston's pass went off the hands of one receiver into the hands of Evans to give the Buccaneers the two points.
Following their five turnover of the game, this time a fumble by Wilson on a punt return, the Buccaneers deficit jumped to 19 points after Slye added his third field goal of the game. The Buccaneers added a late touchdown after an 11 play drive ended with Dare Ogunbowale running the ball in from three yards away. And after forcing a punt by the Panthers, the Buccaneers got the football back trailing by 11 & with over two minutes left in the game. But on a fourth & 10 play, Winston threw his fourth interception of the game, ending any thoughts of a huge comeback. And with less than left in the game, the quarterback threw his career-high fifth interception of the game when Bradbury recorded his second interception of the game, jumping up to grab a pass again intended for Evans in the endzone.
Tampa Bay has a bye this coming Sunday but will be travel to Tennessee on October 27th to take on the Titans.