4 critical observations from the Panthers’ defeat at Bucs in Week 17

(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Shi Smith and Chuba Hubbard
(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Shi Smith and Chuba Hubbard /
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What were some critical observations as the Carolina Panthers lost out on the NFC South following a tight road loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

It was always going to be a tough ask for the Carolina Panthers to make the postseason. Controlling their own destiny was all well and good, but winning back-to-back road games after only winning a single contest away from Bank of America Stadium in 2022 represented a steep test.

Carolina had two difficult games to end the campaign. A matchup with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed by a visit to the New Orleans Saints.

Their convincing victory over Tampa Bay in Week 7 was the first time Carolina had beaten the Buccaneers since Brady made his surprise exit from the New England Patriots. And a synonymous part of Matt Rhule’s reign as head coach was his inability to be competitive when matched up against the legendary quarterback.

What we saw on Sunday was the Panthers going toe to toe with the greatest to ever do it.

The Panthers will be disappointed that on two occasions they held a double-digit lead over Tampa Bay but failed to capitalize. When you don’t put a player like Brady away, it often ends the same.

Steve Wilks deserves immense credit despite the loss. After inheriting the mess he did when Matt Rhule became an early-season casualty, for this team to be playing meaningful football in January is a remarkable achievement.

Without further ado, let’s break down four critical observations from Carolina’s poor defeat in Week 17.