The Panthers ended their two-game losing streak and improve to 5-3 as they beat their divisional opponent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Panthers are now 4-1 on the road this season. For the second straight game, the Carolina defense, led by Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, didn’t allow a touchdown and only allowed their opponents to score three points. Last week, Chicago’s two touchdowns were defensive touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s offense couldn’t find a rhythm all day as Jameis Winston threw zero touchdowns and two interceptions, and the team only rushed for 85 yards. The Panthers pulled away in the fourth quarter, intercepting Jameis Winston twice, with the Mike Adams’ pick ultimately leading to Newton’s 25-yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin to make it 17-3.
Cam Newton was 18 for 32 passing attempts and had 154 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He once again led the team in rushing with 44 yards on 11 attempts. Jonathan Stewart had 34 rushing yards on 11 attempts and scored a touchdown. This drive included the Panthers converting on five third downs. This is the Panthers’ first rushing touchdown this season from someone not named Cam Newton. Rookie Christian McCaffrey led the team in receiving yards with 49 yards on five catches. Kelvin Benjamin finished with three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers’ defense forced three turnovers on Sunday and limited the Bucs to only a Patrick Murray 41-yard field goal in the third quarter. Luke Kuechly returned from concussion and had one of the two interceptions in the second half. Julius Peppers sacked Winston in the second quarter, which forced a fumble, and was his team leading 7.5th sack of the season. That sack put him ahead of Chris Doleman for fourth all-time on the career sacks list. After the game, Peppers said he was just happy the team got the road victory. “I’m more excited about us getting a road win. … I’m not trying to diminish the other stuff that happened (in terms of the sack), because that’s a big deal too.” Peppers was being humble; what Peppers didn’t mention was that with that sack, he reached a $250,000 contract incentive for having at least seven sacks on the season.
The Panthers will return home to face their divisional rival, the Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers will travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.