The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers 17-14 on Monday Night Football. You probably missed it because there were infinitely more entertaining baseball games going on at the time, including the Cleveland Indians putting the wraps on the Boston Red Sox and Big Papi’s career. So if you didn’t watch this sloppy football game, you made the right choice.
For those of you who made the right call, here is what you missed. The Panthers were without Cam Newton, who missed this one with a concussion. It showed. Derek Anderson played quarterback for the Panthers who had the ball less than nine minutes the entire first half. They actually looked like they were going to do something in the second half as Anderson left them on a touchdown march to start the third quarter. But that was the last time the offense would look good if not for a boneheaded roughing the punter penalty on the Panthers next possession.
To Anderson’s credit, he took advantage of the break and found his one weapon, tight end Greg Olsen and a few plays later Cameron Artis Payne would score from 12 yards out to make it 14-6. It was his second touchdown of the quarter and would be the last points the Panthers would score.
Jameis Winston of the Bucs did not have a great night and neither did second round draft pick Roberto Aguayo. Winston was able to muster only two field goals despite having the ball for 21 minutes of the first half for a 6-0 halftime lead. Aguayo missed two of his first four field goal attempts to make him three of seven on the season.
But they both came up big at the end of the game. With the score tied 14-14 with a little over two minutes to go, the Bucs took over deep in their own territory. After two run plays were stuffed, the Bucs had it third and eight at their own 16. The Panthers were using timeouts, thinking they were going to get the ball back with time to win the game. But Winston hit Mike Evans for the first down, keeping possession. Then he hit Vincent Jackson for another first down and when the Panthers were flagged for a facemask penalty, suddenly the Bucs were in field goal position.
Winston ran the ball to the right hash mark and fell down to put the ball where Aguayo wanted it. The Panthers used their last timeout to make him think about it, but Aguayo, who was the most accurate kicker in the history of Florida State and a three time All American while a Seminole, split the uprights down the middle for the win.
The loss drops the defending NFC Champs to 1-4 and seriously damages their hopes of returning to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. If Carolina rallies to make the playoffs, it is likely going to be as a Wild Card because the Atlanta Falcons look like they are going to win the NFC South after knocking off the Denver Broncos. That would mean the Panthers will have to go on the road to get back to the Super Bowl to places like Minnesota, Green Bay, Philadelphia or Atlanta. That doesn’t seem too likely the way they have looked even when Newton has played this season.