Defense shines in win against the Panthers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into Charlotte and came away with a 20-14 in a early season division matchup with the Panthers.
The defense once again stole the show as they held Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey in check most of the night. This defense is playing the best we have seen a defense in Tampa play in years.
Vernon Hargreaves had his best game as a Buccaneer with 12 tackles and the made the play of the game stopping Panther running back Christian McCaffrey at the Tampa Bay two yard line with 1:28 to go to seal the win for the Buccaneers.
Linebacker Shaq Barrett had three sacks of Cam Newton with two coming on consecutive plays in the third quarter. Barrett now has four sack on the season.
This was also the first game that we saw the defensive line with Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh apply pressure and cause some disruption in the backfield.
Bruce Arians defensive philosophy is “defend every blade of grass” and this defense did that on Thursday night.
Panther all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey who had over 200 yards of total offense against the NFC champion LA Rams in the Panther opener was held to 53 yards of total offense, 37 yards rushing and 16 yards receiving against the Buccaneers.
The Bucs defense harassed Panther quarterback Cam Newton all night and had him scrambling as he completed 24/50 passes for 324 yards.
The Bucs defense held the Panthers to 3/14 on third down conversions, and 0/3 on fourth down conversions. What’s even more impressive is those three fourth downs that the Panthers went for were all one yard or less for the first down and the Bucs held.
How good has this defense been? They have allowed just one touchdown in two games so far this season. A major improvement over 2018 when this defense couldn’t stop anyone.
On the offensive side of the ball, James Winston looked like calm, cool, and collected most of the night. Although sacked three times, Winston was in control of the game all night and is really starting to develop some good chemistry with wide receiver Chris Godwin.
Godwin had eight catches for 121 yards and one touchdown and is quietly becoming a favorite target of Winston.
Winston completed 16/25 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and was not intercepted.
Mike Evans and tight end OJ Howard were both non factors as Evans had just four catches for 61 yards, and Howard was shutout. It’s just a matter of time before Evans gets going and we see the Mike Evans that has had over 1,000 receiving yards every year in his career.
Running back Peyton Barber had the hot hand at running back running for 82 yards and one touchdown. Last week it was Ronald Jones who had the hot hand, this week it was Barber.
Arians has said he doesn’t care who is the starter, if one back has the hot hand he will keep going with that back. Barber and Jones are quickly becoming a nice combo for the Buccaneers.
The only real negative of the game was the amount of penalties that the Bucs continued to rack up. 12 penalties for 66 yards which is four more penalties than they had in the opener against San Francisco.
This is an area that has to be troubling for coach Arians.
Rookie linebacker Devin White left early in the game with a knee injury. Kevin Minter stepped in for White and called the defensive signals. White is listed as day to day and is hopeful to be ready for the Bucs next game against the NY Giants.
My two stars of the game, on defense a tie between Vernon Hargreaves and Shaq Barrett. Hargreaves had 12 tackles and the game winning tackle late in the game. Barrett had three sacks in the game, all coming in the third quarter.
On the offensive side of the ball quarterback Jameis Winston is my player of the game. Winston coming off one of his worst games as a Buccaneer outplayed Cam newton in the 20-14 win completing 16/25 for 208 yards and one touchdown.
The Bucs will face another all purpose back in Saquon Barkley when the NY Giants come to Tampa next Sunday. The Bucs will inducting Buccaneer legend Ronde Barber into the Ring of Honor at halftime.