Posted: 3:56 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013
By James Dator
The Carolina Panthers struggled early, but put the game on their quarterback's shoulders.
It took almost a half of football for the dam to break, but when it did things became ugly quickly. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a quick start, but the Panthers asserted themselves on both sides of the ball -- cruising to a 27-6 victory and extending their win streak to eight games.
Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson was unable to play, and his absence showed for the second straight week. The Panthers were unable to generate any pass rush early, needing a breakout play on offense to turn the tide. Cam Newton did as he has so many times in the past, coming through with a 56-yard scramble that set up a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
This was a definitive moment that seemed to break Tampa Bay. Mike Glennon was no longer poised in the pocket, and as soon as they were forced to play from behind things went bad. The rookie quarterback had a costly fumble inside the red zone, and followed it up with an interception that allowed Carolina to put together a series of long scoring drives.
Consistency swung in Carolina's favor, and the offense made a switch at running back where Mike Tolbert was made the focal point on a day Jonathan Stewart struggled. The stronger North-South back was the ideal counter to the Buccaneers' strong defensive line play -- Tolbert finished with 48 yards rushing on nine attempts .
Newton was the biggest factor in the game. He threw two bad interceptions, but more than made up for it with 331 all-purpose yards and a total of three touchdowns. Newton proved dangerous through the air and on the ground, with head coach Ron Rivera continuing to rely on his quarterback in short yardage running situations.
Monday Night Football now becomes of vital importance to the Carolina Panthers. The New Orleans Saints face off with the Seattle Seahawks in a game that could determine who holds possession of the NFC South entering a critical Week 14 game between the Saints and Panthers.
Cam Newton was sensational against Tampa Bay outside of his bad interceptions.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen finished with five receptions for 85 yards.
Buccaneers defensive back Darrelle Revis left the game with a shoulder and chest injury. He did not return.
Dwan Edwards left in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, and the Panthers defensive tackle did not return.
The Carolina Panthers were 6.5 point favorites, according to OddsShark. Their 21 point victory means they covered easily.
12/8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
12/8: Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints