The Bucs started out the game quite slow, but poured it on as the game went along, beating the Panthers 41-17. Mike Evans and Tom Brady broke franchise records, Rob Gronkowski pocketed a cool million dollars for reaching incentives and the Bucs earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Here were the most disappointing moments and players from the big win at home.

Bucs First Half Defense

Tampa Bay’s performance on defense in the first half was quite odd. They only allowed seven points, but allowed the Panthers to march down the field almost the entire time. It started off when Carolina began the game with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. In fact, the Bucs’ offense only ran three plays in the entire first quarter. The Bucs just couldn’t get off the field and were bailed out by the Panthers failing to convert on fourth down. That included a fourth-and-inches QB sneak in which Sam Darnold lost the ball. In that stretch, the Bucs allowed the Panthers to get a first down on third-and-20 after a 19-yard third down play. Just unacceptable. They can’t play like that against the Eagles next week and expect to win.

Bucs Run Defense

I remember a time when people would be dumbfounded if the Bucs allowed 50 yards on the ground. Now, running for over 100 has become commonplace on the Bucs’ defense. Darnold was able to escape the pocket and Chuba Hubbard ran comfortably for 5.3 yards per rushing attempt, as the Panthers racked up 110 yards. Kevin Minter and Devin White missed more plays, and no one else stepped up in that area. The Bucs really need Lavonte David to start the playoffs.

ILB Devin White

We can officially categorize White as “in a slump”. After recording just two tackles last week, he only increased it to three tackles on Sunday. White is lacking the splash plays. While he can fly around the field, he gets in other players’ ways to the detriment of the team. There were at least two times where White had a free run at the quarterback and wasn’t able to take him down. If you’re going to be reckless, you have to make the occasional splash play. White just hasn’t.

CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

Covering Robby Anderson later in the game, Murphy-Bunting allowed a touchdown on third down while holding Anderson the entire play. It was a solid throw by Darnold off his back foot, though somehow SMB missed when swatting at the ball. A complete whiff. How did he miss that? It was right in front of him to make the play and he could not. It’s been that kind of year for Murphy-Bunting. Even when he’s in position, he can’t make plays. He ended the game with four tackles.

TE Cam Brate 

Brate dropped a very catchable ball on third down during the Bucs’ second drive of the second half. They went three-and-out and the Panthers ended up kicking a field goal to make it a one-possession game after that. It ended up not being a huge deal in the long run, but the Bucs are going to need Brate to step up in crucial situations with so many of their best players out. That’s a catch he has to make every single time and there won’t be any room for error in the playoffs. He finished the game with two catches for 12 yards on three targets.

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
8 days ago

First half defense only allowed the 7 points. I have more of an issue with this kick off/punt Coverage Unit? It’s getting worse! Defense has to keep defending a short field and when they make the stop you guys still blame them. Sometimes I feel like I watched a different game or maybe I should stop putting off that eye appointment or something.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
Reply to  Captain Sly
8 days ago

Points aside first half d was garbage period. Not sure what your watching! If was better team they would have scored more! Bucs couldn’t stop shit. Panthers Ran on them, passed on them. Nobody stayed in gaps, nobody could shed a block, poor tackling, poor angles and pass rush ran past QB over and over. That was pathetic first half! Also White was horrendous! I saw over and over him miss tackles, out of his gap and played like hot garbage.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  fredster
8 days ago

How can I just conveniently “put points aside”? The defense has 1 Job! That’s To Stop the opponent from getting points. Please please tell me what else matters?

Kimba
Kimba(@kimba)
Reply to  Captain Sly
8 days ago

agree with that Captain Sly!
Jaelon Darden, always worried he will muff the punt/ko does not add anything to this team as far getting better

Dman
Dman(@dman)
8 days ago

Brate made up for the drop blocking for Miller on that end around touchdown. I would add TB in the first half up until the final drive. He was spraying the ball everywhere our wr’s weren’t.

Spitfire
Spitfire(@spitfire)
Reply to  Dman
8 days ago

The problem there is our Scheme. Almost guaranteed the WR’s were supposed to be where he threw. Our Offense unfortunately is design to read the Defense and for the QB and WR to be on the same page and make the same reads. Plug in untested guys and that plan struggles like in the first half. Leftwich needs to scheme for the guys we have and not plug and play.

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
8 days ago

I thought Devin White was going to be the new Ray Lewis. Turns out, his play has been more like Jerry Lewis. Remember Horse, the nutty Jerry Lewis. White has been the biggest disappointment this entire season. Hard to believe Minter is the best back up LB we have. He’s just not fast enough. What good is knowing the system is you can’t make plays? Looks like ILB needs to be put on draft list. Bunting couldn’t swat the ball because he was using his bum arm. If you’ll notice he couldn’t extend the arm with the elbow brace on… Read more »

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
8 days ago

Furthermore since I’m ranting, your “famous whipping boy” SMB can’t go unnoticed! Took an absolute perfect pass from Darnold that only the receiver could make to score that touchdown but somehow you can turn it around to blame Bunting. SMH

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
8 days ago

Yes, the Panthers held the ball a long time and ate up a bunch of yards, but unless you score points, the distance traveled is meaningless. What, no mention of Kevin Minter on this list? How can we have a Most Disappointing List without noting the disappearance of O.J. Howard?

Horse
Horse(@horse)
Reply to  scubog
8 days ago

Scubog, I agree about Howard. He better be the next Play Off OJ or he is gone. I believe he isn’t on the right team for himself, and I don’t think there is one for him in the NFL. If Gronk can’t get him fired up these last two years, then I believe we have the answer. We should have kept Auclair instead; now we have to draft a TE in the early rounds. I was wrong about Howard when we drafted him.

Horse
Horse(@horse)
8 days ago

I agree about White and Minter; I’d put Stuart (Mr. Irrelevant) in the rotation; he’s earned it. What I saw from the Defense in the 1st Qtr and part of 2nd Qtr not much leadership on the field. I know this is a stupid question; Does White wear glasses? Maybe he should?

Spitfire
Spitfire(@spitfire)
8 days ago

I just don’t see the fire in the Defense like at the end of last year. Our Defense in the 4th quarter looked like their old selves come back to life. They were runnin around everywhere, looking like they were having fun out there. That’s the kind of fire they need from the get go. Both Offense and Defense start out so slow. Luckily they tend to wake up after the first drive or two after adjustments which is better than not, but they need to come out on fire.

Buc stops here
Buc stops here(@buc-stops-here)
8 days ago

I know they need to complain about something, but there is a reason the defense did not play well – a lot of starters are out and should be coming back next week in the playoffs. Some big names missing: JPP, Shaq Barrett. Smaller names missing: Richard Sherman, Rahard Robinson (both CBs). All are expected back. By the way, this year, all 18 weeks, not all 11 starters have been on the field at the same time. To play like they have without everyone available is just incredible.

Crack3rK
Crack3rK(@crack3rk)
8 days ago

By my calculations, DWhite had 50% more tackles this week! :-)

HomerSimpsonRocks
HomerSimpsonRocks(@homersimpsonrocks)
8 days ago

My thought was that if SMB wasn’t clutching that WRs Jersey he could have actually jumped properly and used both his hands to defend the ball. Just dumb. Devin White looked TERRIBLE out there.

Last edited 8 days ago by HomerSimpsonRocks
Kimba
Kimba(@kimba)
8 days ago

SMB playing with that brace and expected to have full range of motion(not)–he is not 100% and should not be expected to be. Blame Jason Licht for drafting kyle trask instead of a cornerback.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  Kimba
7 days ago

And who is the CB he should have drafted Kimba? Was he worthy of the 64th position? You might want to check who was available IF Jason Licht had peered into his crystal ball and knew there would be so many injuries at the secondary, including SMB, who played pretty well on that Super Bowl championship team. Maybe that same crystal ball revealed a 44 year old QB who can’t last forever.