Tampa Bay's defense sacked Cam Newton twice and held Carolina to a 2.9-yard rushing average in the Bucs' 27-21 win against the Panthers in overtime. What grade did the Bucs defensive line get? What grade did Tampa Bay's secondary deserve?
Find out in this Pewter Report article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's defense played against Carolina in the Bucs' 26-21 victory over the Panthers, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.
Defensive lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim had his best game of his pro career with seven tackles and a tackle for loss against the Panthers. Te’o-Nesheim played at right defensive end in base defense and at defensive tackle in nickel defense at Carolina.
Defensive end Michael Bennett continued to add to his team-leading sack total with his career-high seventh sack of the year. Bennett had five tackles, including two tackles for loss against the Panthers and is tied for second on the team with 11 tackles for loss.
Da’Quan Bowers recorded his second sack of the season and the fourth of his career and had two tackles, including a tackle for loss, against Carolina. Three out of his four NFL sacks have come against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Defensive tackle Roy Miller had three stops, while fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had two tackles and a tackle for loss. The Buccaneers recorded 10 tackles for loss against the Panthers with the defensive line notching five of them. Tampa Bay’s D-line did a good job of stuffing the run and containing Newton, who rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries. GRADE = BLINEBACKERS
Once again weakside linebacker Lavonte David led the Buccaneers in tackles with nine, including another tackle for loss. David leads the team with 13 tackles for loss and 90 stops. David’s tackling prowess was a big reason Carolina averaged only 2.9 yards per carry against Tampa Bay.
Middle linebacker Mason Foster had a solid game with five stops and a tackle for loss. He is currently second on the team with 68 stops and is tied for second with 11 tackles for loss. Foster did get fooled on play action a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell in which he should have dropped into pass coverage, but was great against the run and good against the pass otherwise.
Adam Hayward started at strongside linebacker in place of Quincy Black and played sparingly as the Bucs played a lot of nickel and dime defense against Newton and the Panthers. He finished with two tackles.GRADE = B-DEFENSIVE BACKS
Free safeties Ronde Barber and Ahmad Black had four tackles each against Carolina, but none bigger than Barber’s tackle for loss on third-and-1 that forced a punt in the second half, and Black’s tackle of Newton one yard short of a first down on third down to force a punt back to Tampa Bay with 1:02 left in regulation. If the Bucs defense hadn’t made a stop there the Panthers would have surely won.
Strong safety Mark Barron struggled in pass coverage, surrendering a 32-yard catch by Greg Olsen and then getting a costly pass interference on third-and-10 in the end zone against Olsen in the first half. That gave Carolina a first-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 1 and the Panthers scored a touchdown on the next play. Barron was also late getting over in coverage on LaFell’s 29-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Eric Wright had three tackles before leaving the game with an Achilles injury in the third quarter. He was in adequate in coverage before his departure.
Cornerbacks Leonard Johnson and E.J. Biggers each had two tackles and didn’t give up many plays in the passing game. LeQuan Lewis had one tackle in relief of Wright in the second half.
Newton completed 16-of-29 passes for 252 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. For the first time in five games Tampa Bay did not record an interception, and it was the first time all season that the Bucs did not break up a single pass. Newton missed 13 throws, but his 16 completions weren’t contested.
The Bucs didn’t give up a pass longer than Olsen’s 32-yard catch, and didn’t surrender 300 yards through the air. While the secondary didn’t give up many big plays in the passing game, it didn’t make many, either.GRADE = CSPECIAL TEAMS
The Buccaneers special teams played very well against the Panthers and were a big reason why the team won its sixth game of the season on Sunday. Kicker Connor Barth made both of his field goals from 51 and 40 yards, which proved to be vital to Tampa Bay’s efforts to push the game into overtime.
Punter Michael Koenen averaged 49.5 yards per punt with a 39.3-yard average. He had one touchback and one punt downed inside the 20. Carolina’s Armani Edwards averaged 25 yards per kickoff return and two of Koenen’s kickoffs were touchbacks.
Roscoe Parrish averaged 7.5 yards on his two punt returns and fair caught one other attempt. Lewis returned his lone kickoff 33 yards.
Carolina’s Joe Adams averaged 13.5 yards on two punt returns. Linebacker Jacob Cutrera forced a fumble on Captain Munnerlyn on a first quarter punt return that was recovered by linebacker Dekoda Watson at the Carolina 29-yard line. That turnover set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown in the first quarter.GRADE = B+
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