Panthers lose to Buccaneers 24-17, playoff hopes in shambles
The Panthers lose to Tampa Bay in a devastating blow to their playoff hopes.
The Carolina Panthers playoff hopes got a lot dimmer on Sunday. In a hard-fought battle, they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a 24-17 score.
Things were rough from the get-go as the Buccaneers had a great first quarter. Adam Humphries caught a three-yard pass from quarterback Jameis Winston to give the Buccaneers a 7-0 advantage following an extra point by Cairo Santos. That concluded a 17-play, 75-yard drive and started the Buccaneers off on the right foot. Santos would add to the lead a little later as he would make a 35-yard field goal to give the Buccaneers a 10-0 lead. The Panthers would answer back however as running back Christian McCaffrey caught an eight-yard pass from Cam Newton at the 4:20 mark of the first quarter. Ending a four-play 73-yard drive, that put the Panthers back in the game as they were only down by a field goal, 10-7.
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After a wild first quarter, the second quarter would be rather uneventful. The only scoring of the frame would be a 13-yard strike from the arm of Winston to former Penn State product Chris Godwin. Putting the Buccaneers up 17-7, this gave them a little breathing room. The field goal ended a five-play, 52-yard drive that was very quick, lasting only 32 seconds. This would put the Panthers in a bit of a hole heading into halftime.
The third quarter could not have started much better for the Panthers. Graham Gano, who had his struggles last week, put the Panthers on the board to start the frame. He made a 37-yard field goal, including a lengthy nine-play, 56-yard drive that took 4:02 off the clock. It put Carolina back into the game, as they only trailed by a touchdown now. At this 7:23 mark of the third quarter, the Buccaneers began to distance themselves on the scoreboard.
Tampa Bay put together a nice drive that took six plays and 75 yards. It ended with running back Peyton Barber taking the ball from one yard out for a touchdown. With the touchdown increasing the Tampa Bay lead to 24-10, things looked bleak for the Panthers. Nevertheless, they did not give up the fight. Devin Funchess took a pass from 14 yards out to the end zone for a touchdown. It was a great throw as Newton managed to place the ball in between two defenders for the score. That ended a lengthy 10-play, 92-yard drive that took 4:59. Scored with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter there was still time for the Panthers to come back. However, they could not get the job done as this battle belonged to the Buccaneers in what was a frustrating day on many levels.
Newton would finish the day going 28-4-41 on the afternoon, throwing for 300 yards two touchdowns and four interceptions. Along with a key missed throw to Funchess on fourth-and-nine, this marked his first time since his rookie season at the Detroit Lions that he threw four interceptions. This was arguably his worst game of the season. On a brighter note, Christian McCaffrey did a nice job running the football. He carried the ball 10 times for 106 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per carry and making the most out of his opportunities.
Curtis Samuel had the breakout game we have been waiting for, as he caught the ball six times for 88 yards. Averaging 14.7 yards per catch, we saw the Samuel of old. He has put together a couple of really strong weeks and appears to be coming into his own offensively. Defensively, Thomas Davis led the way. He tallied eight tackles including five solo tackles to pace the Panthers defensively. Even still, there is no denying that this was a rough day for Carolina on that side of the football. Something needs to be done in order to right the ship again.
The Panthers next game will be next Sunday, December 9 against Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM ET.