DEFENSIVE LINE: B
Missing William Gholston to end the regular season certainly wasn’t the preferred situation for the Buccaneers, but early in this one the defensive line was able to fill gaps effectively and keep Cam Newton from becoming overly comfortable.
Twice in the first half, the Bucs sacked the Panthers quarterback. Once by Robert Ayers, and another by linebacker Lavonte David who was able to get into the backfield after the defensive front swallowed all the Carolina blockers.
Rookie Noah Spence has been a difference maker this season despite the fact he’s been battling injuries throughout his first season in the NFL.
Today was no different, and #57 was seen making key plays down the stretch. He finished with a modest three tackles and a quarterback hit, giving credence to the phrase “quality over quantity”.
While Carolina did finish with 128 rushing yards, it was the outside run and a few chunk plays which netted the yardage. For most of the afternoon the Buccaneers bottled up the rushing attack of their opponents and forced Newton to try and make plays through the air, which didn’t work either.
Good pressure set up big plays from the second and third levels, so this group gets a serviceable grade without a lot of flash.