Just four days after their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the Bucs traveled up to Carolina to face their division opponent, Cam Newton and the Panthers.

The Buccaneers won the toss and chose to receive the ball. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston hit his first big pass of the day on his very first attempt to receiver Chris Godwin, but after that it was three plays and a punt to end the opening drive early.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers offense had a bit more success on their first drive. Running back Christian McCaffrey was the focal point of the offense with a few nice runs on the drive, which got them into Buccaneers territory. Carolina found itself in a 4th-and-1 situation right around the 45-yard line and chose to run Newton on an option play. But Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead was right there to stop him before he could cross the line and the Panthers turned it over on downs.

It seemed the weather followed the Bucs to Carolina, as there was a 30 minute weather delay that followed the change of possession. After they were finally able to resume play, the Bucs offense sustained a 32-yard, 9-play drive that got them into field goal range. Matt Gay knocked his first attempt of the game through and that opened up the scoring at 3-0.

The Panther responded well with a nice drive of their own after going down on the scoreboard for the first time. Newton and company drove down the field and got into field goal range themselves and were able to knock in a game-tying kick.

Following the field goals for both teams, three consecutive punts ensued; two for Tampa and one for Carolina. With a short field on their next drive, it only took 23 yards for the Panthers to get into field goal range. That gave them the chance to take the lead, and that’s what they did, bringing the score a 6-3.

After back-to-back punts, one for each team, the Buccaneers offense caught fire. After consecutive 20-yard catches, one to Cam Brate and one to Chris Godwin, the Bucs found themselves in the end zone on a pass from Winston to Godwin, bringing the score to 10-6.

The Panthers didn’t take too kindly to going down on the scoreboard, and started their next drive focused to move the ball through the air. Receivers Chris Hogan and D.J. Moore caught big passes to bring the Panthers to within field goal range, which they once again converted on and brought the game a score of 10-9 at halftime.

Both teams opened up the half with punts, but when the Panthers got the ball back for a second time in the second half, a big pass from Newton to tight end Greg Olsen got them in striking distance to put up the first points of the second half. That’s what they did, brining the score to 12-10 with Carolina on top once again.

The Bucs responded beautifully with a quick, long drive that went 72 yards in just five plays. Chris Godwin had a catch of 24 yards and Ronald Jones had a run of 14 yards, which all set up a 16 yard run into the end zone from Peyton Barber. That gave Tampa the lead once again at 17-12.

On Carolina’s next possession, the Panthers traveled 19 yards in three plays, but on their fourth play, Newton scrambled and coughed the ball up. Rookie defensive end Anthony Nelson forced the fumble and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the first to jump on it. The Bucs offense would travel 21 yards in seven plays on their next derive, but when they set up for the field goal to extend the lead, Gay pushed it right and the score remained 17-12.

The Panthers weren’t able to do much on their next possession, but their punt pinned the Buccaneers offense right at their own 3-yard line. After what was nearly a beautiful throw and catch at the sideline from Winston to Godwin, Bucs running back Peyton Barber was tackled in his own end zone for a safety. That brought the score to 17-14, and also brought Carolina the ball.

Bucs the Bucs defense, as they had all game, came up strong and not only stopped Carolina’s drive, but stood the Panthers up on 4th-and-1 for the second time, turning the ball over on downs at midfield. The Bucs offensive line struggled to hold up against Carolina’s rush on Tampa’s ensuing possession. The drive eventually ended in a long sack on Winston, which resulted in another punt.

As the game went no, it appeared Newton became less and less accurate. Newton had players open on their next drive, he just couldn’t hit them. That forced yet another punt by the Panthers with time then under 10 minutes to go in the game.

Thankfully, for the sake of our football sanity, Peyton Barber got the Bucs next drive started on the right foot with a 12-yard gain and a quick first down. Winston then went to his main man Chris Godwin for another first down. And that got them into Carolina territory with the clock running. After getting into field goal range, it was time for some Matt gay redemption. He knocked it through, and the Bucs took the 20-14 lead.

The Panthers took over down by six with 2:26 left in the game. On Newton’s first pass of the drive, he hit wide receiver Curtis Samuel for a 24-yard gain. The drive continued with passes to both Olsen and McCaffrey, which got the Panthers to the Bucs 30-yard line with two minutes left in the game. Then a penalty by Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis got Carolina into the red zone. After marching it down all the way 3-yard line, the Bucs had the Panthers at 4th-and-2. But as McCaffrey was running to the first down mark, he was tackled short and the Panthers were stopped yet again.

The score remained 20-14, and that’s how it would end.

In a Buccaneer victory.

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

33 COMMENTS

  1. Shaq Barrett..wow.

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  2. We have a defense! Its been so loong.

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  3. Awesome game!! Except that missed kick. Other than that tremendous!!!!!

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  4. The defense gives me hope.

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  5. Defense is back. Love it. Felt a lot like Dungy Ball.

    Gutsy performances by Shap Barrett, Haergraves, Payton Barber. Jameis played within himself.

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    Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
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  6. Barret and Bowles!!!!!! Great win!!!
    Still need a better offensive game plan but a win is a win. Love beating Newton, and McCoy is still losing.

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    Rating: +22. From 22 votes.
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  7. Are our young Bucs starting to believe? It seems Arians coaching is starting to sink in with most of the players. We often forget how young this team truly is. This is because they are the second youngest team in the NFL currently.

    Lots of young players stepped up with the veterans. Well done! Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +13. From 13 votes.
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  8. What an unexpected victory! Shaq barrett was unstoppable tonight. Todd bowels has been worth every penny so far. Yhis defense is light years better than that shit show from last year. Its amazing not watching a defense throw up all over themselves and choke a game away. The secondary is still young and learning so there us plenty of room to grow. Vita is getting a great push up the middle and it was so nice watching the bucs just out physical Carolina.
    On a side note. McCoy is exactly who most of us though he was. Always run right out of his lane and pushed all over the place. Soft as hell.
    Jameis did exactly what he has to do and played a good game against a good defense. If mike uses two hands on the first endzone pass and perriman catches a ball that goes right throw his hands, this game wouldnt even be close.
    Keep getting used to the offense and dont make bad decisions. On a side note, I love establishing the run, but dear god ,can we try play action every once in a while on first down?
    Gay made things interesting with a miss as well and this game had that same ,here we go again feeling ,but these guys pulled it out.
    A little long winded but damn it’s nice for the team to win and Jameis to get that road monkey off his back.

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    Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
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  9. What a game for these young guys to pull out. Vernon Hargreaves with 12 tackles and the save of the game!! Also SB was Jameis was a great manager of the ball and he had two more td’s dropped by his receiver! Oh what can BAB speak on this week?? This was a gutsy performance. Still way to many idiotic penalties, but let’s keep on this roll and ten days to prepare! For such a young team, this win was huge!

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    Rating: +13. From 13 votes.
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    • I’d also like to hear what you think of Vea’s performance. He collapsed the pocket all night long! Isn’t that great news? Only hope the Devin white is ok. Just a sprain from the early reports

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      Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
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    • It’s bad luck to mention a Trolls name! You’ll feel relief when you forget he exists and just scroll on by!

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      Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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  10. What a great win!! The defense really stepped up and I hope they continue to get better along with our offense!! Much better performance by Winston.

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    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
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  11. Winston says Arians is genuine and authentic he lets you play football. Could that have been an issue with the old regime?

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    Rating: +11. From 11 votes.
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  12. Congrats Buc fans! Tough gutsy win! Winston zero turnovers! VH3 with the big stop at the end… the guy BA called out at the beginning of the year! Way to step up when we needed you, VH3! Not as sexy as the pick 6 but we win the game! GO BUCS!

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    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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    • I love hard nose football. VH saved 6 on a 4th down to me thats as sexy as it gets!

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      Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
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  13. At the very least, Jameis can be our Bortles that can sneak us into the playoffs. Personally, I think he can be better but if this defense continues to look like it did tonight, that’s all we’ll need. Great W, in a similar game as Bucs fans we’ve seen turn into a loss so many times.

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  14. Oh Man! I can believe I didn’t have a Heart Attack the last quarter! The Defense is stout man! Shaq is our Sack King for now! That missed kick hurt but it was straight which means he can correct that! And on a nasty field!

    The Offense still has a ways to go obviously but they started to turn to the same page tonight! One almost INT but almost doesn’t count! That was an Ass Kickin by the Defense and a step in the right direction from the Offense!

    Great game but my Heart can’t take many more ending like that! 😂

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    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
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    • I had a heart attack and a vasospasm in the brain simultaneously last year, there were a couple times this game I thought it was happening again

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      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
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  15. Wow, this took me back to the days of yester year, when the Bucs, and Pants defenses used to dominate. I thought it was over when we called that second time out, and they only had a half yard to go. I thought for sure Cam would sneak it in, but nooo! Nice to see the other team find a way to lose instead of us. Jameis, just don’t turn it over, you have a defense now.

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    Rating: +9. From 9 votes.
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  16. Great exciting edge of your seat Buc victory. Barrett and Hargteaves should get game balls. Winston No turnovers. Now for a mini break and hopefully a discussion about turnovers. Go Buc’s

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    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
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  17. Really nice defensive effort at all three levels.

    Gotta punch that last drive in for a TD…FG was nice but better teams won’t let us win that way. Winston was making the key throws over the middle (see Brate for the third down conversion on Godwins TD)…that’s his money throw. The fade to Evans is not the one to call on 3rd and short in the red zone.

    Still – loved the drive up to that point. Barber would not be denied on that drive.

    Some more to learn but defense led the way.

    Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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  18. Half of you fans thought we were gonna lose this game last week 😂😂…. Great win Jameis played mistake free football, Oline did a pretty good job overall, Defense played a hell of a game and Vern made a good stop on 4th(Besides that tackle he was getting eaten alive by DJ Moore) this game was much needed and we are building momentum while the Giants come to town next week which should be a W on the board for us bucs!!!

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    Rating: +5. From 7 votes.
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  19. Go Bucs! We have a defense! No Ints! No fumbles.

    Win! Win! WIN!

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    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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  20. Bucs defense hasn’t surrendered many TD’s this season so far. o.O

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    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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  21. Great win.

    I knew the Bucs defense had it in them. GHOLSTON, Vea and Suh were a force! Minter was great! Edwards was fantastic! Davis III was huge. VH3 great! But Barrett stole the show! I called this Carolina victory. Oh, and outcast Gerald McCoy was exactly who we thought he was…a non factor.

    On offense, Winston was better at times but still needs to get rid of it faster and be more decisive. Chris Godwin showed up! He’s a big-time-prime-time PLAYER! Barber’s tough running gained 2-3 extra yards every rush. O line was great in the run game. Outstanding adjustment and improvement, now quit committing false start penalties!

    Giants at home in 10 days. Get rested. Find a way to keep Minter on the field!

    GO BUCS!!!

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    Rating: +7. From 11 votes.
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  22. The pre game said it. If Winston throws under 30 passes we have a shot to win. He went under 30 and we got the W.
    Our Defense is looking very solid tonight. Our offense had it opportunities to put this game away, and couldn’t do it.
    I’ll take this on to the next. Get the offense a bit more dialed in and we could make some noise this year.
    Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
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  23. Other than some bonehead penalties, the Defense played very well. The offense was on again off again, and also penalties were a factor. Hard to believe how undisciplined this team is.

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    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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  24. Jameis played better today. No one INTs! He managed the offense better this time. Godwin balled out in this win! On defense, Shaq had a great game with the 3 sacks! 4 in 2 games now. That was cool to see the Defense perform so well and help the offense out. Peyton looked good too. Establish the running game and it takes a lot of pressure off Jameis. Great to see Jameis manage this game a lot better! That’s all he needs to do with this defense, take advantage of what they give to you and distribute the ball to ur weapons. This shows that Jameis doesn’t have to try to win the game on every play. Again, good rebound game for Jameis! Any time you hold McCaff in the running game u certainly have something to build on! Good job defense! Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
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  25. At first the offense appeared a bit tentative and out of sync and Jameis maybe a bit too cautious. But they hung in there, made a few key plays and seemed to gain confidence as the game went on.

    Defense is a much more confident group than what we’ve seen the past two years. Gholston, who many were ready to cut, has impressed in both of the games. Vita sure doesn’t look “fat and out of shape” to me. VH3 has resurrected himself and playing like was expected. But the guy impressing me is Jordan Whitehead. Not a bad 4th rounder.

    In a way I’m glad Gay missed a kick to get that inevitability behind him in a victory.

    Let’s all “eat a W” and enjoy our weekend.

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    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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  26. I just had a feeling we would be competitive just like last week and fix some of our mistakes. We did and we won! Very happy, and folks I was wrong about Gholston; he is plugging up the middle along with Via. Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
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  27. Man that was a tough game to watch but I’m glad we escaped with a win. I’m sure glad we dumped Spence in favor of Barrett. He was a sack factory last night! Hargreaves showed why he should be moved inside to nickel but he made a great stop against McCaffery to end the game. Again, happy with the victory. Go Bucs!

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  28. All great points, for me, I really enjoyed the fact that the defense never gave up a touchdown..WOW! Defense made big plays when they needed to..GREAT WIN!!

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  29. I was unable to watch the game last night, so have to rely on the judgment of others as to what happen3ed, what went well, and what didn’t go so well.

    In a thread the other day, when we discussed the performance of the defense against San Francisco, I wrote that a much better test would be against the Panthers on the road, and whether or not we could contain McCaffery. Well, the defense played very well on the road in Carolina and managed to contain McCaffery. So now we know we do have an improved defense through two games this season. Much more to learn in the coming 3 months.

    Another point of observation – our offense played well enough to win, and it should be noted that Winston only threw 25 passes, quite a few less than last Sunday. Generally speaking, our offense generally plays better when we are not throwing the ball too often. 25 passes a game seems to be a pretty good metric to shoot for. When Jameis is slinging it 35, 40 or more times a game, it usually seems to produce more turnovers. If Winston is slinging it too often, that’s when his judgment seems to trend downwards.

    I rather expect that Bruce Arians observed the same thing last Sunday, and made sure that in this game it wasn’t turned into a quarterback sling fest.

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