FINAL: Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19
Carolina recovers a fumble and that will do it. What a comeback by the cardiac Cats!
Touchdown Panthers! They lead it 22-19 with 35 seconds left! Newton recovers the dropped snap and takes it in from a yard out.
Panthers get the first down by the nose of the ball! 36 seconds left!
Buccaneers jump offside! Huge miscue by Tampa there! It's Fourth and 1!
Cam had time to find his man for another first down!
Cam avoids a sack on first down. He throws it away as we hit the two-minute warning.
Another big play gets the Cats into the red zone!
A 23-yard pass gets the Panthers in business down 19-15!
Back-to-back pass interference penalties gives Tampa a first down with 4:03 left. The Bucs are milking the clock. Carolina needs a play on defense as the Bucs face third and long.
Winston finds Mike Evans on third and 12 for a big first down. The offsetting penalty on Star Lotulelei was critical as it nullified a safety on a hold in the end zone. Winston may be having his best game of the year today.
Newton is sacked on third and 3 at the 39. The Panthers moved the ball well by running on that drive. They don't fake it this time and the punt is downed at the 6-yard line. Nine minutes left. Panthers need a stop here.
Panthers out at midfield after some well executed option reads by Newton and McCaffrey. They're using the run game this drive.
Another field goal makes it 19-15. Panthers need a response here.
END THIRD QUARTER: Buccaneers 16, Panthers 15
The sack guided another red zone stop. Bucs about to attempt another field goal.
Winston converts another huge third down on a wheel route to Charles Sims. Panthers get a big play on the next drive as Peppers gets a huge sack for a 13-yard loss. It's the Panthers' fourth sack of the game.
Another big play from Tampa. Some missed tackles by the Panthers defense and the Bucs are at the Carolina 43. Winston has 315 yards passing today. Tampa dominating the total yards battle.
A third and 2 pass to the end zone is incomplete. Another Gano field goal and the lead is trimmed to 16-15. Still the third quarter.
Newton keeps it on third and 1 for a big first down.
Tight end Greg Olsen can't hang on and Carolina gets in punt formation. They fake it and Tampa is flagged for pass interference. Huge call by Ron Rivera trying to light a fire under his team. Panthers move into Tampa territory.
The Bucs take the lead 16-12 on a touchdown catch. They've moved the ball well all day in spite of two turnovers.
Tampa gets an interception as a sluggish day for the Panthers offense continues on their first drive of the second half.
Now Byrd is down after the second half kickoff and is limping off the field. Rough injury day for the Panthers, who start from their own 19.
HALFTIME: Panthers lead 12-9. The two Tampa fumbles loom large as does Byrd's kick return for a touchdown. Tampa moved the ball throughout the first half, but Carolina came up big in the red zone and haven't allowed a touchdown yet. Panthers have to be concerned after Newton and Peppers went down.
Here's a gallery of action from the first half:
Panthers Try to Hold Off NFC South Rival Buccaneers
Godwin drops a touchdown pass. A little wide, but catchable. Murray's kick is good for his third field goal of the day. 12-9 with two seconds left in the half. Panthers red zone defense comes up big again.
Tampa gets a defensive holding call and gets the ball at the 1 with nine seconds left. Panthers call timeout.
Adam Humphries with a tremendous catch on a jump ball at the Carolina 5. First and goal.
A Vernon Butler face mask penalty is costly, giving the Bucs a first down at the Carolina 41.
Tampa gets a first down after a 16-yard pass to Mike Evans. Two-minute warning.
Damiere Byrd returns the kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown! Byrd resumes his great stretch. It's 12-6 Carolina after the extra point is blocked. Byrd's return is a franchise record for longest return.
Patrick Murray's field goal is good
On third and 9 from the 10, Winston is sacked for a 13-yard loss! Wes Horton continues his big day.
Another injury for a key player as Julius Peppers is down for the Panthers. He's back up and walking toward the sideline.
The longest pass play of the season for Tampa is a 70-yard play by Chris Godwin and Tampa is in the red zone for the third time today.
After a three and out from Tampa, Panthers get the ball back. Newton misfires to Christian McCaffrey on third down and Panthers will punt it away.
Anderson's pass is off target on third down, but the Panthers go up 6-3 on a Gano field goal. Carolina crossing their fingers on Newton.
Newton shaken up after a run. He's down and backup Derek Anderson is warming up on the sideline. He'll walk up off the field so that's a good sign.
And just like that, Winston fumbles the snap and Carolina recovers! The second takeaway of the day for Carolina! Big break for Carolina.
Winston looks good, completing seven of his first eight passes after the finial fumble. Tampa in the red zone again.
Panthers offense sputtering in the first quarter, offering only seven total yards with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
Newton sacked by Gerald McCoy on third and 4. McCoy got around guard Amini Silatolu for the sack. Tampa gets the ball back.
A pass interference call on Mike Evans forces Tampa to have to kick a field goal. Patrick Murray's 31-yard field goal is good and we're tied at 3. 2:24 left in the first quarter.
Tampa moving down the field and into the red zone. They're at the Carolina 16 with a first down.
Winston finds Clemson's Adam Humphries on a out route for a first down.
Newton comes up short on a third and 7 and Graham Gano hits a 25-yard field goal and it's 3-0 Panthers after the Winston fumble. Panthers continue to give the Tampa quarterback fits.
Newton coverts a third and 1 on a sneak. Panthers near the red zone.
Wes Horton forces a fumble on Winston! It's his fifth sack and his third forced fumble of the year! Panthers recover and take over at Tampa's 33.
Winston somehow evades the rush on the game's first play. A good sign for the Panthers defense to get pressure early.
It's time for kickoff! Tampa Bay gets the ball first.
During a week that involved a scandal involving owner Jerry Richardson putting his share of the team up for sale, the Carolina Panthers (10-4) shift their focus to the field where they can clinch a playoff spot today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10).
The Panthers currently sit in the No. 5 spot for a wild card berth and are still eligible for a first-round bye. But they'll need some help. The New Orleans Saints, also 10-4, own a tiebreaker with two wins against Carolina. The Panthers NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons sit in the final playoff spot entering their game against the Saints today.
The Buccaneers have lost nine of 11 games after a 2-1 start. The Panthers' defense has feasted on Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who's been pressured into 11 turnovers (nine interceptions and two fumbles) and been sacked 12 times against Carolina.
Here's some pregame notes to get you ready for game time:
- Linebacker Thomas Davis is suspended for today's game after his hit on Green Bay's Davante Adams.
- Quarterback Cam Newton has tossed 11 touchdowns to just one interception since Carolina's Monday night victory over the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 13.
- Wide Receiver Damiere Byrd caught his first two touchdown passes last week in the win against Green Bay.
- Linebacker Shaq Thompson is questionable this week, dealing with plantar fasciitis.