The Buccaneers fell to the Panthers in an absolutely lackluster performance by the offense. The defense finally picked it up, only allowing 17 points and under 300 total yards. It would be nice if the Bucs could turn in a good performance on both sides of the ball like a good team would, unfortunately, the Bucs are not a good team.
At 2-5 the Bucs are closer to the first overall pick than they are to a playoff spot. It is safe to say that the already slim playoff chances they had are practically gone.
Jameis Winston did not look sharp, but 2 of his 3 turnovers were not entirely his fault. A normally pretty good pass blocking offensive line turned into turnstiles. Winston was constantly under pressure and looked like he was struggling with his injury much more than last week. Winston’s status will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Without further ado, let’s get to the key plays.
Jonathan Stewart 1 yd TD run: 1:34 Q1
Carolina was unstoppable on this drive, methodically moving the ball downfield. The Panthers converted on five third downs – the last going for a TD. Tampa Bay’s third-down defense was absolutely horrible and it does not make any sense as to why. Last year the Bucs had the top third-down defense. Now, they have regressed to dead last.
This was a key play because Carolina got the first touchdown of the game and had taken the lead.
Jameis Winston fumble: 5:53 Q2
The Buccaneers were on a good drive before they committed the usual self-inflicted penalties. Jameis led the Bucs to the Carolina 33 before back to back penalties by offensive linemen made it 1st and 25. From there Jameis felt pressure again and made a poor choice to do a shovel pass which would lead to a fumble recovery for Carolina. However, had Jameis not been hit while attempting the shovel it likely would have gotten there. While it was a poor choice by Jameis to shovel it, if the line had just protected him for just one more second the drive would have stayed alive.
This was a key play because it killed off a drive that appeared destined for points.
Chris Conte INT: 13:39 Q3
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Following a big return by former Buccaneer Russell Shepard, Carolina was close to midfield. A few plays later the Panthers entered Bucs territory and looked poised to score. Chris Conte had other ideas, as he made a great play on the ball to pick it off and give the Bucs the ball back.
This was a key play because it ended a Carolina drive that was bound to end in points and set up the Bucs with solid field position.
Pat Murray 41 yd FG: 4:49 Q3
Normally I would not include a field goal as a key play, but any score for the Bucs with the way the offense was playing is a key play. Doug Martin was running hard this drive, picking up chunks of yards to get the Bucs just outside the red zone. Martin was inexplicably pulled out in favor of Jacquizz Rodgers and, inevitably, the drive stalled. Murray remained perfect on the year as he nailed a 41-yarder with ease.
This was a key play because the Bucs finally got on the board and made it a one-possession game again.
Jameis Winston INT: 11:42 Q4
Winston was under pressure again and it led to another turnover. This one was not on him at all. Winston was hit was he threw the ball and it was tipped at the line of scrimmage, an absolute recipe for disaster and the ball was intercepted. The line struggled all day in the passing game and Jameis would pay the price.
This was a key play because the Panthers turned the Bucs over and received good field position as well.
Cam Newton 25 yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin: 8:48 Q4
Newton would take advantage of the short field to put the Panthers back up by two possessions. However, not before converting yet another third down. This time, Newton converted on a 3rd and 16 on a touchdown pass to Benjamin. Justin Evans played the pass very poorly as Benjamin simply jumped up and came down with the catch.
This touchdown would pretty much put the game out of reach for the Bucs, so it was a key play because it clinched the game.
Jameis Winston INT: 6:11 Q4
Winston’s third and last turnover would put this game to bed. This one was completely on Jameis and was absolutely inexcusable. Before the INT, he was leading the Bucs on a pretty good drive. Tampa Bay got all the way down to the Carolina 31, but more boneheaded penalties by the Oline pushed them back. On a third and 14, Jameis stared Brate down as Kuechly was step for step with him and Winston threw it right to Kuechly’s chest.
This was a key play because if the game wasn’t already over, it certainly was now.
In the first of two games divisional games in a row, the Bucs looked flat out bad. With their playoff prospects looking bleak (being generous) the Bucs should consider shutting down Jameis because shoulder injuries are no joke (just ask the Colts and Andrew Luck).
Check out our friends at the PewterCast below with their post game InstantCast call in show.
"WARNING: NSFW (EXPLICIT LANGUAGE) – Check out the latest PewterCast post-game Instant Cast. Brent and Ren discuss their thoughts following Week 8’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, and open up the phone for you all to voice yours as well!"
Next, the Bucs play NFC South division leader New Orleans Saints, in what will be their last chance to salvage their season. With the Saints riding a five game winning streak and the Bucs skidding on a four game losing streak, I am not exactly optimistic. However, maybe this is the game where the Bucs turn it around when their backs are completely against the wall and their season fading before their eyes. I hope that this is the case but realistically I just do not think it will happen.
There you have it the Bucs fans, the key plays in the loss to the Carolina Panthers.