Well, now. This just keeps getting better and better.
Panthers 37 – Bucs 23
It’s like this: Carolina has Tampa’s number. They’ve had it tattooed on their thigh for going on four years, now. That’s right: the Bucs haven’t won against the Panthers since the 2012-13 season. There was a time when both teams played each other toe-to-toe and every contest was an exhibition of smash-mouth, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners football.
Yeah. Not so much, these days.
It was a weird game in several respects: The Bucs won such statistical battles as total time of possession, first downs, and total offensive yards gained…the latter by a sizeable margin. Unfortunately, they also won a couple of less notable battles: turnovers, and penalties. Tampa rookie quarterback Jameis Winston coughed up the ball on the second play of the game, which Carolina converted to a quick field goal. Winston also was intercepted on his first throw of the day, which was returned for a touchdown and put Carolina up 10-0 less than five minutes into the game. Not a great way to start, folks. Winston was picked off three more times during the day, but he also threw for two TDs and hit a new high mark with 287 passing yards. To be honest, he’s really not that far off the trail Josh Freeman was traveling during his first year with the Bucs. Winston’s got some work to do, that’s for sure, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel on him just yet.
Besides, there’s so much other shit that’s wrong with this team. Example: Those aforementioned penalties. Tampa came into the game as the NFL leader in total accrued penalties, and they didn’t cede their crown today. That’s discipline and coaching falling short, right there, period. Kicker Kyle Brindza continued his struggles from last week, going 1-3 on field goal attempts. The defense had some spark and even managed to get to Carolina QB Cam Newton twice and even keep him somewhat contained, but it wasn’t enough when factoring in Tampa’s sputtering offense. Take away the missed field goals and the ten points given away on turnovers, though? On paper, at least, this thing was a lot closer than it ended up being.
:: sigh ::
The loss drops Tampa to 1-3 and three games behind the Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, who also won today. Both teams advance to 4-0 on the season, while New Orleans is getting set to play the Dallas Cowboys as I write this. Who the hell knows how that one’s going to end up. Next up for the Bucs? It’s another home game as they host the equally anemic Jacksonville Jaguars in a contest that’s sure to thrill hundreds of devoted spectators.
Bucs life, yo. Grr. Argh.