Complete. Decisive. Words the team used to describe last weeks performance have translated into a convincing win this week against division foe the Carolina Panthers.
The star of the show was unquestionably Andrew Adams, who recorded three of the Bucs’ four interceptions against the Carolina Panthers. Adams tied the franchise record for single-game interceptions, joining Aquib Talib and Ronde Barber, who earned the honor twice. Javien Elliott recorded the team’s fourth interception of the game. The secondary had to overcome losing Justin Evans and Isaiah Johnson, as well as missing Brent Grimes for the entire game.
The calm, cool, collected Jameis returned today. He took sacks in circumstances where he would probably have forced throws earlier in the season. Winston broke the team’s franchise record for touchdowns, beating Josh Freeman with 81 total touchdowns. In addition, and more importantly, Winston did not contribute to the Bucs’ turnovers today: the only Bucs turnover came from a questionable fumble, where Peyton Barber crossed the goal line with the ball and lost it off of Donovan Smith’s pad. A challenge by Dirk Koetter would have been futile as all turnovers are reviewed and the refs confirmed the call. I think we can all agree that terrible call hurt the Bucs and would have been a point of contention had the Bucs lost the game.
Despite the Bucs’ MO for having a high-flying offense, they clocked less yards than the Panthers this week – 444 to 315 – which goes to show yards do not equate to wins (as if we hadn’t already learned that this season.)
The Bucs defense did its part, holding Christian McCaffrey to 106 yards and one receiving touchdown, a marked improvement over our week 9 matchup where he accumulated over 150 yards and two touchdowns.
The key to this game, however, was the defense getting after Cam Newton early (they must have listened to our podcast). Cam threw at least two interceptions under pressure – we’ll be able to tell definitively after reviewing the all-22.
While in the game it appeared penalties really hurt the Bucs, we won in that aspect as well. The Panthers had 7 penalties for 104 yards, compared to the Bucs’ 9 penalties for 69 yards. Several of the Bucs’ penalties came at crucial times, but in the end we were able to overcome.
Everyone else in our division lost this week, enabling the Bucs to move up to third in the division. The Panthers are still in the playoff hunt at 6-6, but the Bucs are still alive with this win. The Saints, despite being 4 games up on the Panthers, have not yet clinched the division.
Overall, this was a convincing win against a formidable opponent. I’m optimistic for our rematch against the Saints next week provided the Bucs can field this team next week. It was a job well done and congratulations are certainly in order.