The Carolina Panthers are an interesting case study in inconsistency; for the most part of this season, poor quarterback play along with he propensity of losing the football dictated the end results of most of their games this season. During Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium, they did have some shoddy quarterbacking and even commited a couple turnovers. Perhaps the only saving grace was that the Panthers’ defense was superb as they were responsible for 5 interceptions, enabling Carolina to claw their way to a 16-6 win over Tampa Bay.
The Panthers took a 10-0 first quarter lead on a 3-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart and a 23-yard field goal by kicker John Kasay; the field goal enabled Kasay to become only the seventh kicker to convert 400 FG’s. The Buccaneers came back as Connor Barth connected on a pair of FG’s in the second quarter to put them to within 10-6, the score that both teams would take to their locker rooms at halftime. The third quarter was nondescript as time of possession was the rule, with the only scoring courtesy of a 40-yard Kasay FG, boosting the Panthers’ advantage to 13-6; the Panthers would score once in the final quarter – again on a FG by Kasay – which would be enough to seal the victory for Carolina.
Josh Freeman, who is still going threough the growing pains that all rookie QB’s go through, went 23-of-44 for 321 yards, but hurt himself by throwing 5 interceptions. Meanwhile, Matt Moore, subbing for Jake Delhomme, was mediocre at best as he went 14-of-20 for 161 yards and an INT. Jonathan Stewart, getting his first start, led the Panthers rushing attack with 120 yards on 26 carries and the game’s only TD while Carnell Williams led Tampa Bay’s rushers with 92 yards on 17 carries.
Steve Smith led all Panthers receivers with 3 receptions for 78 yards while Muhsin Muhammad caught 4 passes for 43 yards. Antonio Bryant led the Bucs receivers with 5 receptions for 116 ayrds while Kellen Winslow caught 4 for 69 yards; Maurice Stovall caught 4 for 68 yards. Carolina (5-7) plays again next Sunday when they visit Foxborough, MA to take on the New England Patriots while Tampa Bay (1-11) returns home to host the New York Jets – also next Sunday.