Despite slow start, Bucs dismantle the Panthers
This was a game the Bucs needed to win to shut up their critics. They delivered blasting the Panthers 46-23,
The Bucs and several players in the game set records that will not be broken for a long time.
Running back Ronald Jones had his best game as a pro as he ripped off a 98-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Bucs up 26-17. This is now the longest run in Buccaneer history.
Jones finished with 192 yards on the ground, which ties him with Eric Rhett for number five all-time in Buccaneer history.
Wide receiver Mike Evans playing in his 100th game, caught his 500th career pass today and finished the game with seven catches and a touchdown.
The Bucs scored 46 points today, which is a season-high as Tom Brady passed for three touchdown passes in the win.
The Bucs had a lot of adversity to overcome this week in beating the Panthers.
After suffering what some were calling the worst defeat in Buccaneer history on Sunday night, the Bucs were questioned all week long about whether the first eight games were just a mirage.
Hurricane Eta came through on Thursday, disrupting the practice schedule.
Saturday, the Bucs waited for six hours as their flight to Charlotte was delayed due to mechanical issues with the plane. The Bucs got to Charlotte around 11 PM for a 1 PM kickoff on Sunday.
It was a sluggish start for the Bucs on both offense and defense. After a quick three and out for the Panthers, the Bucs offense took over, and Ronald Jones fumbled the ball after a six-yard completion from Tom Brady, giving the Panthers the ball at the Buccaneer 33 yard line.
Defensively, the Bucs took awhile to get it going. Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater picked the Bucs secondary part as he was 12/12 at one point late in the first half.
The Bucs took a 17-17 tie into the locker room at halftime and came out a different team in the second half.
The Bucs took the ball straight down the field but stalled in the red zone and had to settle for a Ryan Succop 24 yard field goal to go up 20-17.
The Panthers got the ball back, ran five-plays, and punted. The Panthers downed the ball at the two-yard line. Then, the Bucs took it up a notch.
Ronald Jones took the handoff and took it to the house. A 98-yard touchdown run and the Bucs led 26-17.
The Panthers took the kickoff and immediately turned it over. Teddy Bridgewater threw for DJ Moore, but Jason Pierre Paul intercepted and gave the Bucs field position deep in Carolina territory.
Again, the Bucs could not convert in the red zone and had to settle for a Ryan Succop field goal that put the Bucs up 29-17.
That was the ball game as the Bucs would never be threatened the rest of the way.
Bruce Arians said last week that one of his concerns was the lack of being able to convert on third down in the loss to the Saints. Against the Panthers, the Bucs converted 10/16 and converted their only fourth-down attempt.
The Bucs left some points on the board as they were 4/8 inside the red zone. The Bucs had been very good in the red zone on the season, but this lack of getting touchdowns in the red zone will be a focal point for the Bucs this week.
The Bucs put up 544 yards of total offense, which was the third-highest total in team history.
The defense allowed the Panthers 187 yards as they shut down the Panthers offense in the second half.
The Bucs allowed the Panthers 27 yards in the second half. Let me repeat that 27 yards.
In the first half, I was watching the game thinking they had a hangover from their game on Sunday night against the Saints.
Then in the second half, a different team showed up, one that we have seen on most Sundays this season.
The Bucs need to find a way to come out firing on all cylinders to start the game instead of waiting till the second half to play inspiring football.
Another important factor in the win that can’t be overlooked was the play of the offensive line. Joe Haeg was sent back to the bench. A.Q, Shipley started at center, and Ryan Jensen was moved to guard.
Brady was sacked just one time, and the offensive line offered good protection for Brady all afternoon.
The Bucs have now matched their win total from last season and are 7-3 with another prime time game coming next Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams.