TURNOVERS PLAGUE BUCS Turnovers and dropped passes cost the Tampa Bay Buccaneers en route to losing to the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, 24-10. Bucs rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski threw two interceptions near the end of the first half and fumbled the ball on the first series of the third quarter. Gradkowski completed 17-of-32 passes for 173 yards and tossed one touchdown and two interceptions.
Bucs second-year running back Cadillac Williams also fumbled in the third quarter, and the Panthers turned those turnovers into 10 of the 17 points they scored in the third quarter on Monday night.
MEET MR. SMITH Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith gave Tampa Bay’s defense, particularly its safeties, a tough time on Monday night, catching eight passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. Five of those passes and his 22-yard touchdown grab came in the second half of Monday night’s game.
PEPPERS ATTACKS Panthers left defensive end Julius Peppers gave Bucs rookie right tackle and rookie right guard Davin Joseph some problems on Monday night. Peppers managed to record four tackles and three sacks on rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on Monday night. Peppers also deflected a pass in the game.
RUNNING GAME REMAINS GROUNDED Not only did he have a costly turnover that led to a Panthers score, Bucs running back Cadillac Williams struggled to get the ground game going on Monday night. He rushed 15 times for 44 yards (2.9 avg.). His longest run of the game went for 11 yards.
BARBER ON FIRE Despite watching Panthers WR Steve Smith haul in eight passes for 149 yards and one touchdown on Monday night, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber had a big game vs. Carolina. Barber notched five tackles and defended four passes. He also forced a fumble on wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and intercepted quarterback Jake Delhomme late in the second quarter. That interception was the 31st of Barber’s career, which ties him with former Bucs CB Donnie Abraham for the franchise record.
MOVING ON UP Bucs fullback Mike Alstott moved into third place on Tampa Bay's all-time receiving list with his 18-yard reception in the second quarter on Monday night. That catch was his 299th career grab. That catch moved Alstott ahead of former Bucs wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
IKE STRIKES Tampa Bay wide receiver Ike Hilliard’s 6-yard touchdown in the first quarter marked the first time he scored in exactly one year. Hilliard’s last touchdown grab came on Nov. 13, 2005 against the Washington Redskins. Hilliard finished Monday’s game with four catches for 30 yards and one score.
INACTIVES The following Tampa Bay players were inactive for the Bucs’ game vs. the Carolina Panthers: QB Luke McCown, CB Alan Zemaitis, LB Shelton Quarls, T Donald Penn, G Jeb Terry, WR Mark Jones, DT Ellis Wyms and DE Simeon Rice.