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September 9, 2012 @ 7:34 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/3 Votes

Bucs Use Ball Control, Swarming Defense To Beat Panthers, 16-10

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Led by a dominating defense that held Carolina to just 10 yards rushing, Tampa Bay snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to last year to beat the Panthers, 16-10, for the first victory of the Greg Schiano era. Rookie Doug Martin rushed for 95 yards as the Bucs held a 37:27 to 22:33 time of possession advantage over the Panthers.
The Buccaneers started off the Greg Schiano era in Tampa Bay with a hard-fought, 16-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The win snaps a 10-game losing streak dating back to the 2011 season when the Bucs lost their final 10 games to conclude a 4-12 record and close the chapter on the Raheem Morris regime.

“That was a good team win and I’m real happy for the guys,” Schiano said. “Now the journey begins.”

Under Morris, the Bucs had the worst rushing defense in the NFL, surrendering an average of 150 yards per game. But on Sunday, Tampa Bay’s run defense was superb, holding Carolina to just 10 yards rushing on 13 attempts. Without starting running back Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams was held to minus-1 yard on six carries.

The Bucs defense was sensational in containing quarterback Cam Newton, who was sacked three times and held to four yards on five carries. Newton completed 23-of-33 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown, but threw two interceptions to safeties Ahmad Black and Ronde Barber, who also had a sack against the Carolina QB in his 200th career start.

“This was a good one,” Barber said. “My individual performance is just a reflection of the defense as a whole. … It felt like old times. We swarmed on them all day long and kept Cam in check.

“When you hold this team to 10 yards after they dominated us last year on the ground you did something right.”

“I was really happy for him,” Schiano said. “I’m really, really happy for him. He got his 200th start at cornerback and then played some free safety. We had good safety play from he, Mark [Barron] and Ahmad Black and coming away with takeaways.”

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had a sensational game with several quarterback pressures, two tackles and his first sack of the season. Michael Bennett had a sack and a forced fumble and finished with two tackles.

While the Panthers struggled to run the ball, the Bucs showed off an improved running game, featuring rookie Doug Martin, who had 95 yards on 24 carries, including a 15-yarder to seal Tampa Bay’s win in the fourth quarter. Martin, who played the majority of the game after LeGarrette Blount suffered a groin injury in the second quarter and didn’t return, also caught four passes for 23 yards. Tampa Bay rushed for 130 yards against the Panthers and didn’t turn the ball over.

“If you take care of the football and possess the football you have a chance to win games,” Schiano said. “The guys did a good job of that today.”

The Bucs had a 37:27 to 23:33 time of possession advantage over the Panthers, which played a huge role in keeping the ball out of Newton’s hands.

“The best way to defend him is not to defend him,” Schiano said of Newton. “He’s a tough guy to defend.”

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was on fire in the first half of the game, completing 12-of-14 passes for 122 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown to Mike Williams. He also picked up two first downs with a 2-yard quarterback sneak and a 12-yard scramble. Freeman’s efficient play helped the Bucs jump out to a 13-0 lead at halftime.

Freeman also had a 7-yard scramble to pick up a first down in the third quarter and shook off a pair of second half sacks to finish the game completing 16-of-24 passes for 138 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions and a QB rating of 95.5. Freeman cooled off in the second half, and saw three of his passes dropped by wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who finished the game with four catches for 47 yards.

First Quarter – Bucs 7, Panthers 0

Freeman was a perfect 7-of-7 for 52 yards on the Bucs’ opening possession, including two passes to fullback Erik Lorig for 20 yards and a 6-yard touchdown pass to Williams. Martin contributed 26 yards on the ground and 13 in the air. After traveling 80 yards in 13 plays, the Bucs led 7-0.

First Quarter – Bucs 10, Panthers 0
A kick catch interference penalty on Captain Munnerlyn during Sammie Stroughter’s attempted punt return gave the Bucs 15 yards and advanced the ball to the 50-yard line. Freeman hit Dallas Clark with a 33-yard pass down to the Carolina 18. But the drive stalled there and Connor Barth was called on to make a 36-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 10-0 lead.

Second Quarter – Bucs 13, Panthers 0
The Buccaneers benefited from two pass interference penalties – an 8-yard penalty to convert a third-down and a 22-yarder – to the Tampa Bay 45. Freeman’s 21-yard strike to Jackson preceded a 12-yard scramble by Freeman down to the Carolina 19-yard line. Another pass to Jackson, this one covering 15 yards, set up first-and-goal at the Carolina 4. But after three tries, the Bucs had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Barth. With 2:55 left before halftime, Tampa Bay led Carolina, 13-0.

Third Quarter – Bucs 13, Panthers 7
On third-and-5, Newton hit tight end Greg Olsen with an 11-yard pass to the Carolina 46. On the next play, Newton fired a 32-yard pass to Steve Smith against the Bucs’ zone defense down to the Tampa Bay 22. There was a miscommunication in the secondary on the next snap as Newton found wide receiver Brandon LaFell wide open for a 22-yard touchdown strike. It appeared as if rookie linebacker Lavonte David or free safety Ronde Barber was out of position on the play. With 8:55 left in the third quarter, the Panthers cut into Tampa Bay’s lead, 13-7.

Fourth Quarter – Bucs 16, Panthers 7
The Buccaneers started at the Carolina 42-yard line thanks to a blocked punt by cornerback Aqib Talib, which was recovered by defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Martin rushed for 12 yards and backup running back D.J. Ware rushed for eight yards, but the drive stalled at the Panthers’ 22 and Barth was called on to kick a 40-yard field goal. Those points increased the Bucs’ lead to 16-7 midway through the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter – Bucs 16, Panthers 10
After a 20-yard pass to Mike Tolbert on first-and-10 from the Carolina 11, Louis Murphy beat Talib to haul in a 51-yard strike from Newton down to the Tampa Bay 18. Smith caught a 7-yard pass on the next play down to the 11. Smith hauled in a 4-yard pass to pick up a first down. Newton scrambled for four yards down to the Tampa Bay 3 before having a pass to Murphy broken up by Talib in the end zone. On third down, Newton’s quarterback draw was stymied by linebacker Lavonte David and a host of Bucs defenders. That forced a 21-yard field goal attempt by Justin Medlock to cap off the eight-play, 86-yard drive.

Tampa Bay’s entire defense rose to the occasion of containing Cam Newton and shutting down Carolina’s high-powered offense, winning the PewterReport.com Bucs MVP honors. After surrendering a combined total of 86 points in two games a year ago to the Panthers, the Bucs defense held the Panthers to just 10 points and 301 total yards of offense.

Free safeties Ronde Barber and Ahmad Black each picked off Newton, and Barber sacked him for the 16-year veteran’s 28th career quarterback capture. Defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett each came up with sacks of Newton, and Adrian Clayborn recovered a blocked punt by Aqib Talib to set up the Bucs’ final field goal in the fourth quarter.

But more importantly, the Bucs neutralized the Panthers’ potent running game, which was missing Jonathan Stewart on Sunday. Carolina rushed for just 10 yards on 13 carries (0.8 avg.). Starting halfback DeAngelo Williams rushed six times for minus-1 yard. Rookie linebacker Lavonte David had six tackles to lead the Buccaneers, while middle linebacker Mason Foster had five stops, including a career-high three tackles for loss.

What has Ronde Barber done best in his 16-year NFL career? Pick off passes and sack quarterbacks. The team celebrated his 200th NFL start in the 2012 regular season opener and Barber did his best to reward the Bucs for making the day special for him by recording one of each.

Getting his 200th start at cornerback in the team’s nickel defense on Sunday before finishing the rest of the game at free safety, Barber finished the game with five tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss, and had the Bucs’ first sack of the season, a 2-yard loss of Cam Newton in the second quarter as he pushed the Carolina QB out of bounds. The sack was Barber’s 28th of his career.

Barber also picked off the team’s first pass of the year when he caught a ball tipped by cornerback Aqib Talib at the Tampa Bay 24 and returned out to the 50-yard line. The veteran defensive back also had two pass breakups to tie cornerback Eric Wright and strong safety Mark Barron in that category on Sunday.

Barber received videotaped congratulations for his 200th start on the Jumbotron during the game from a host of former Buccaneers, including tight end Dave Moore, fullback Mike Alstott and linebackers Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy.

Bucs' inactives against the Panthers were: WR Arrelious Benn, CBs Myron Lewis, E.J. Biggers, Anthony Gaitor, LB Najee Goode, OL Jamon Meredith, and DL Wallace Gilberry.

Panthers' inactives against the Bucs were: QB Jimmy Clausen, S D.J. Campbell, OL Jeff Byers, OT Bruce Campbell, DT Sione Fua, DE Thomas Kaiser and RB Jonathan Stewart.

Running back LeGarrette Blount appeared to have re-injured his groin with 8:31 left in the second quarter and did not return. Blount finished with eight yards on three carries. He was replaced by running back D.J. Ware, who had 14 yards on two carries. Blount was seen leaving the locker room jogging immediately following the game and appears to have not been injured seriously.

The Bucs' 2012 season opener drew 51,533 fans. The temperature was 83 degrees at kickoff under cloudy skies with 79 percent humidity. There was a rain and lightning delay coming out of halftime during the second half as a thunderstorm passed through Tampa.

Ted Larsen, who replaced the injured Davin Joseph at right guard, was flagged for a false start and a costly holding penalty, which negated a 31-yard pass play to wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Although the Bucs only got flagged for four penalties for 35 yards, Larsen drew half of them.

Tampa Bay’s offense only generated 258 yards, including just 87 yards in the second half, and was outscored 10-3 in the final 30 minutes by the Panthers. Schiano would have loved to have seen the Buccaneers punch the ball in the end zone on the two trips inside the red zone that the team had to settle for field goals. Right before halftime, the Bucs had a second-and-goal from the Carolina 1, but lost a yard over the next two plays and had to settle for a 20-yard Connor Barth field goal.

"When you get down there that close you have to score touchdowns," Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman said.

The Buccaneers didn’t get anything from their return game as Sammie Stroughter had to fair catch three punts and Preston Parker had zero yards on his only return of the game. Rookie Michael Smith averaged just 18.3 yards on his three kickoff returns with a long of only 23 yards.

Tampa Bay (1-0) travels to New York to face the Super Bowl champion Giants (0-1) next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.

Last modified on Sunday, 09 September 2012 20:59

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  • avatar

    It's been so long since I've been excited and so psyched watching a Bucs game. The boyz looked good on defense. Offense came out firing then fell off completely. Was happy with the nads they showed calling a pass play on 3rd down at the end. Only problem I had was they knelt with 2 minutes left. Dougie only needed 5 yards 2 crack 100 yards which as a rookie is important. I know they were preserving the win but you gotta feed individuals once in awhile like when Warrick Dunn had 270 yards against Dallas and Dungy sat him . All in Josh looked a little tentative in his throws but loved his runs. In all fairness to Larsen on the holding call, when he fell back he didn't even have his hands on the guy when he fell on top of him so it was a bad call. I didn't realize McCoy got so big. He looked like a monster and played like one. Good job coach Schiano, he had them ready to play. This ain't last year. GO BUCS !!!
  • avatar

    I didn't see the game, but the result is much better than expected, expecially the awesome defense. I hope that this continues and I will eat a whole pie of crow. Here is me eating one crow for now!
  • avatar

    Totally agree with McCoy finally getting kudos for his disruptive play. We have seen flashes of this before, so I guess the key is for him to stay healthy. I was very pleased with the LB's as well. It is so nice to see them firing in on run plays, rather than hanging back only to get blocked as in the past. I do fear that our D will be more susceptible to good playaction doing this (which we did see a few times), but you can't argue with the results for this week. Big win. Now we can play with 'house money' next week vs the NYG, as nobody expects us to beat them! Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I told you guys we would beat the Panthers. Cam is going to regress dramatically this season. I did not expect our defense to play so lights out though...
  • avatar

    Captain McCoy looked like the # 3 pick in the draft. Hope his smile after the game didn't upset anyone.
  • avatar

    Last thing: my vote for individual player of the game has to go to Gerald McCoy. He was extremely disruptive today - looked like the guy we've been hearing about all training camp. I'm not gonna jinx him by saying too much more. Great game by 93, and it was fun to watch. That defense is a lot better with him at the point of attack.
  • avatar

    Love the game today. Being in the stadium, it was clear that the fans came ready to get excited. There may have only been 51,000+ there, but they made some noise. A couple of observations: in some ways, I think that you can look at Vincent Jackson's day and say that he underachieved. You'd be right. However, you can also look at it and say that his numbers didn't fairly reflect his impact. That 30+ yarder got called back, and he made a nice play there. He also drew the downfield pass interference call and would have caught that ball if he hadn't been interfered with (assuming his bricks for hands decided to work). He also drew extra attention on the TD pass to Mike Williams. His two drops were terrible and, if Carolina had capitalized, could have seriously cost us the game. There were a lot of mistakes today, but that's not surprising in week 1. Hopefully the blown coverages and other lapses get worked out. Carolina's d-line isn't first class, but it's got some players on it, and I was pleased with what we did at the offensive line of scrimmage. Josh missed a couple of opportunities IMO, including one play in which he pump faked to get the corner to bite on a pump and go for Vincent Jackson. The corner bit hard, leaving VJ wide open, and JFree decided to check it down, which I didn't like. Lastly, when you get 2nd and goal from the 1, you absolutely have to get 7. All-in-all, thrilled with the overall effort and, most of all, the discipline. I'll take W's anyway I can get em. Let's see if we can build on this next week. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Is the game being replayed on NFL.com after midnight.
  • avatar

    I was looking forward to this game all week and it didn't disappoint. Everything just felt right even before the game started. The fans were upbeat, the tailgating was lively and even though I was sitting in the visitor's side there were virtually no Panthers fans there. I always sit there and that was the lowest turnout for the opposing team I've ever seen. Now everyone sees why I said I think we would have seen fewer wins this year if we had lost McCoy for the year instead of Joseph. Larsen had the two penalties but for the most part Freeman had plenty of time to throw all day and when he was pressured he was able to step up in the pocket then scramble. "We will rally around Ted Larsen and we WILL play good football" :-)
  • avatar

    On thing I can say was Luke Kuechly was a NON-FACTOR in this game, but Mark Barron was every where on the field. That 3rd down pass break-up was amazing and he was laying the wood great pick.
  • avatar

    I'm glad to eat some crow. It was like watching the old Buc Ball. This team played as a team. I was very impressed and really enjoyed being at the game. McCoy was a disrupter and could have gotten three sacks if it was any other QB other than Newton. McCoy really looked good and I am hoping that his play will continue because we need him. Barron was awesome and Martin looked solid as well as Barber, Talib. I thought the Defense would be the problem, but it turned out to be the Offense that started off strong and then was totally flat for most of the 2nd half. Freeman played better than his stats show because three passes should have been caught that didn't and Larsen struggled at times. The rest of the OL looked okay. This was one of the games that we needed to win and we did. I think the team just bought into the Schiano Way. Go Bucs! Good game and now it's on to the Giants.
  • avatar

    Gerald McCoy looked like a beast!!
  • avatar

    Like going back in time, that's Buc ball.16 to 10.
  • avatar

    For those who didn't get to watch the game, Mike Martz kept going on and on about how fast the Bucs defense looked. I was impressed with the pass rush and the rush defense. There is no doubt that when McCoy is healthy, the D-Line gets a much more serious push. Martin, Barron and David all appear to be significant upgrades at their positions. If they can sustain this defensive intensity, they can be a good team.
  • avatar

    That a way Tampa bay..we looked good thought we had a chance to win but was suprised we held cam in check like that and only 10 yards rushing wow..guess that's good when u come with a new defense and offense teams don't know what to expect..that Barron hit was heard in the next city...woooooo let's go needed that losing streak taste out my mouth.
  • avatar

    Now to all those McCoy naysayers...shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......as I said before the game, he is EXCELLENT! As I also said before the game, our starting 22 are good enough to make a game of it with any team, the keys to this year will be injuries and turnovers. We got superman for 2 INTs...we need to keep winning that battle and stay healthy....GO BUCS!!!!!!!
  • avatar

    It is week one, so I can't get too high yet, but great to see the losing streak end. As someone who has been high on McCoy from the start, his performance was great to see, but until he lasts the season, I will be cautiously optimistic. The secondary looked great too, but until I see Talib play this way for 16 games, I will be a little bit scared (but Barber and Barron at safety, wow, I love them.) Offense was up and down, but that last 3rd down pass VJAX was huge, and that was the play we were missing most of last year. Feel pretty good about us right now, but we have the champs next, so hopefully the players only enjoy it until Tuesday.
  • avatar

    Simply awesome!The defense was swarming like the old days. So far so good. If the Bucs play like this next week then I will have to revisit my season record prediction.
  • avatar

    After watching this game I think I might be eating some Crow. I was sure our offense was going to be the high point and our defense was going to be the weakness and it was exactly the opposite. If McCoy continues to play like he did in the first game we may actually have a good season to look forward to.
  • avatar

    Far and away one of the best team performances I have seen from the Bucs, they had purpose, were disciplined, and played hard nose football . . .It was just outstanding to see them beat the panthers in that way. Best play for me (there were many) but Mark Barron's hit on Steve Smith . . .wow
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