CAROLINA PANTHERS

What a difference a week makes. The Pewter Pirates offense, that was totally dormant against the Saints last week, came out of hibernation in a big way.

The visiting Buccaneers posted a 46-23 triumph over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, Tampa Bay improved to 7-3 on the season and Carolina fell to 3-7 on the campaign.

The Cats dented the scoreboard first at 8:19 of the opening period. After Carolina recovered RB Ronald Jones II fumble, the Panthers took 4 minutes to traverse 33 yards in seven plays that was culminated when QB Teddy Bridgewater (18-of-24 for 136 yards and 2 TDs plus 1 INT) connected with TE Colin Thompson from seven yards away. K Joey Slye hit the PAT to give the Blue & Black an early 7-0 lead.

The Bucs

answered that score with one of their own at 3:37 of the first period. QB Tom Brady (28-of-39 for 341 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INT) hit TE Cameron Brate with a five-yard strike. That finished off a 10 play drive that went 75 yards in 4:42. K Ryan Succup was good with the extra point and that tied the contest at seven each.

On their next possession, the Panthers forged ahead at the 1:45 mark of the opening stanza. Again, it was through the air with Bridgewater this time finding WR D.J. Moore with a 24-yard catch-and-run. That ended a 75 yard drive that took only 4 plays and 1:52. Slye was good again to move Carolina on top by a 14-7 count.

Tampa Bay cut into that lead on their next possession. Succup hit a 23-yard field goal at 9:59 of the second period. That finished off a 14 play drive that went 60 yards in 6:46 of clock time that cut the Cats lead to 14-10.

Carolina matched that three-pointer with one of their own at 3:56 of the second quarter. Slye split the uprights from 46 yards out finishing off a drive that took 6:03 to go 32 yards in 10 plays to increase the Panthers lead to 17-10.

Tampa Bay tied the score

with 27 ticks before halftime. Again, it was Brady with a short 3 yard pass to WR Mike Evans that ended an 80 yard drive that took nine plays in 3:29 . Succups hit the PAT and both clubs went to the locker room tied at 17 apiece.

Tampa Bay took the lead for good at 10:58 of the third period. Taking the second half kick, the Bucs took 4:02 to go 64 yards in 10 plays leading to another Suppop field goal this time from 24 yards. That gave the Pewter Pirates a 20-17 advantage.

Then two pays that changed the entire complexion of the game occurred. The first came after a Panther punt that was downed on the 2-yard line, it took Tampa Bay only 14 seconds to change the arithmetic on the scoreboard. Jones hit off left guard and, after breaking a tackle, outraced the Cats defense for a 98 yard scamper that set a Bucs record for the longest run from scrimmage.  The extra point was blocked but the Buccaneers increased their margin to 26-17 with 7:39 let in the third quarter.

The second was on the first play of Carolina’s next series. Bridgewater was picked off by LB Jason Pierre-Paul at the Cats 38-yard line. That led to a 21 yard Succop FG that ended a nine play drive that took 4:21 to go 40 yards stretching the Bucs advantage to 29-17 at 3:10 of the third stanza.

Succup added another 3-pointer at 12:40 of the fourth period. This drive took eight plays to go 13 yards in 3:23 and put the Pewter Pirates up 32-17.

There was no quit in the Cats

and they proved it on their next series. After RB Trenton Cannon took the kickoff 98 yards to the Bucs four yard line, Carolina scored at 11:23 of the fourth quarter. Bridgewater scrambled into the end zone from three yards out capping a 2 play drive that went four yards in 1:17. The two point conversion was stopped but the Panthers closed the gap to 32-23.

The Buccaneers ended all thoughts of a Carolina comeback on their next drive. Brady sneaked into the end zone at the 6:18 mark of the final period. That drive took 5:05 to go 75 yards in nine plays. Succop’s PAT increased the Bucs lead to 39-23.

Tampa Bay closed the scoring with 4:24 left in the tilt. After Carolina turned the pigskin over on downs deep in their own territory, Brady hit TE Rob Gronkowski from seven yards out culminating a 21 yard drive that took four plays to go 21 yards. Succop was good with the extra point and that made the final score 46-23 in favor of the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay now prepares for a Monday night encounter with the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium. Check out Rob Kriete’s Buc up column later this week for his thought and prediction on the outcome of the contest.