A late first half touchdown by Cam Newton has given the Carolina Panthers a commanding 17-6 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at halftime.
Newton ran it in from one-yard out on fourth down to increase the Panthers lead, a lead that they deserve.
The Bucs forced Carolina into a three and out to open the game, then proceeded to rumble down the field until they were halted in their tracks by the Panthers defense, and settled for a 27-yard Ryan Lindell field goal.
Newton and co. responded with a touchdown as they drove the field and completed the series with a 16-yard pass to Brandon LaFell.
A 53-yard field goal by Lindell got the Bucs back within one before a huge error from Mike Glennon prevented the Bucs from taking the lead.
Scrambling to his left, on third down, Glennon raised up to throw but instead of throwning the football, the ball fell out of his hands onto the turf and was subsequently recovered by Carolina.
They turned that turnover into a Graham Gano field goal, which was soon followed by Newton’s TD run.
The Bucs haven’t played well. They are 0-5 for on third down and have established no running game whatsoever. Bobby Rainey has nine carries for 17 yards, and while Glennon is eight of 11 for 124, he has rarely threatened the Panthers secondary. He did however hit Vincent Jackson for a 60-yard pass in the only bright spot for the Bucs offense.
The defense hasn’t been much better. Keith Tandy picked off Cam Newton on a deflected pass but they have struggled to slow down the Panthers high-paced offense.
Newton has managed to avoid the Bucs pass rush and has even ran the ball well, a 56-yard dash the highlight.
Lavonte David has six tackles, and Darrelle Revis has three, while holding Steve Smith to only one catch in the first half.