Carolina Panthers at Buccaneers
- Week 17 | 24-17 loss
As stated previously, Steve Wilks did a sensational job as interim head coach in challenging circumstances. This gave the Carolina Panthers an opportunity to take charge of the NFC South with just one regular-season game remaining.
Obviously, the overall weakness across the division in 2022 played a part. But many fans were highly confident that Carolina could get one over on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 after restricting the quarterback to just three points earlier in the campaign.
Carolina’s quest suffered a major blow when Jaycee Horn broke his wrist on Christmas Eve against the Detroit Lions. As it turned out, this was something Brady and the Bucs exploited at will.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin ran riot over cornerback duo C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. almost from start to finish. This was also the wrong time for Sam Darnold to revert to the turnover-prone signal-caller we saw before his mini-renaissance.
The 24-17 final score made this game look closer than it was, in all honesty. It also officially eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention despite their rousing effort under Wilks.
Tampa Bay lasted just one game in the playoffs, bounced in convincing fashion by the Dallas Cowboys. With Brady’s future uncertain, this looks set to provide Carolina with a window to take over the division with the right recruits.