Carolina Panthers Week 2 grades vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After the Carolina Panthers (0-2) fell to the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams, optimism remained. Both forced and unforced errors led to a slow start but by the second half, Carolina appeared poised for contention. Battling back, the Panthers competed but ultimately fell short.
At home against divisional rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1), the team would have erased any concerns with a short-week win, but unfortunately dropped another game after the offense failed to score a touchdown.
Despite the dismal performance, Carolina had an opportunity late but turned to running back Christian McCaffrey with one-yard necessary to extend the game and just two for a likely victory. He gained neither, being pushed out-of-bounds by Buccaneers corner Vernon Hargreaves, leading to a second loss just five days into the 2019 season.
In similar situations the Panthers have almost always leaned on quarterback Cam Newton but Thursday night shined a light on how this offense operating moving forward. Newton has just five carries, resulting in negative total yardage and two fumbles through two weeks of play. Without the threat to run, defenses can focus squarely on shutting down McCaffrey out of the backfield and Tampa Bay was successful – not just during this play but throughout much of the game.