BUCS : GOAL LINE STAND : CAROLINA
By Leo Haggerty

Tampa Bay hosts Carolina Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM and that’s weather permitting.

The Bucs are coming off a home win over the 49ers. That puts the Pewter Pirates tied with the Falcons for third place at 4-7 in the National Football Conference South Division.

The Panthers suffered their third loss in a row when they were beaten at home by the Seahawks.  That dropped the Cats to 6-5 and that puts them three games behind the division-leading Saints in the NFC South.

Below are my four keys to victory.  A little different than last week but that’s because the competition has a completely different skill set on both sides of the ball.  Enjoy.

1ST DOWN

MAKE SUPERMAN CLARK KENT

This has to be the number one goal of any team playing the Panthers.  You have to contain #1 and not let him come out of a phone booth and beat you.

QB Cam Newton has the ability to beat you with his arm as well as his legs. Plus, with new OC Norv Turnet having a whole set of designed runs for Superman, the Carolina offense is even more formidable.

The Bucs have to keep Newton human. If he puts on the cape with the big red S, things will get ugly for the Bucs.

2ND DOWN

NO EASY POINTS

This is a big one too.  In fact, it’s just as important on both sides of the ball.

On offense, the Bucs need to protect the football. No short fields that puts the defense in precarious positions against a very effective Panthers offense.

On defense, no splash plays.  Make Carolina go on double-digit drives to score points.

Make the Cats earn every point they put up on the scoreboard. That keeps Tampa Bay in the game into the fourth quarter and that gives the  Buccaneers a chance to win.

3RD DOWN

WIN 3RD DOWN

Another important goal that applies to both sides of the pigskin.  More on defense but still a major positive on offense as well.

It is imperative that the Bucs defense, when it has the Panthers behind-the-chains on third down, gets off the field.  No extra possessions and extended drives for Carolina.

The offense has to convert on third down.  That keeps the Cats offense on the sidelines and wears out the Panthers defense.

4TH DOWN

BEAT THE MAN

This is simple. Winston has to outplay Newton.

#3 has to be the better QB when it comes to protecting the pigskin. He has to be the QB who takes advantage of situations and make the opposition pay for mistakes by putting points up on the scoreboard.

OK, it’s prognostication time. I look for them Bucs to build on the momentum of last week’s victory and make it two in a row.  TB, 23-20, with a late FG