Julius Peppers receives the Panthers game ball after becoming the fourth all-time leader in sacks.
Carolina Panthers defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-3, Sunday. Heading into the game Buccaneers offense was hot. They were riding a franchise best streak in most consecutive 300-yard plus passing games with 5 and most yards from scrimmage in a six game span in team history with 2,357 yards. Panthers fierce defense they limited their offense to three points and 279 total yards. The defense also forced three turnovers with two interceptions and a Peppers strip sack.
“Good team win. That’s how you prepare,” Peppers told the team in the locker room after the game. “Stick with each other, do things the right way…continue to believe, continue to work, this is what happens, man. We gone do this the rest of the year.”
Coming off a two game losing streak where they dropped a close game against Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 and a 17-3 loss to Chicago Bears last week, this divisional win was just what they needed, linebacker Luke Kuechly said Sunday.
“No better way for us to get back on track,” Kuechly said. “Its a hard place to play and that’s a really good offense.”
Panthers offense came off a performance where they only scored three points in Chicago and two turnovers turned into 14 points for Bears. While the offense wasn’t perfect they were able to score a touchdown on a first half red zone opportunity and Cam Newton hooked up with Kelvin Benjamin on a 25-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Newton finished with 154 yards passing, adding 44 yards on the ground, throwing one touchdown and one interception.
All in all, Newton is happy with the win.
“The defense played exceptional…they just created a lot of turnovers that we needed as a team,” Newton said during the post game press conference. “Offensively it took us a while to get going but we’re going to have games like this. We got to find ways to keep pushing forward to will a win.”
With the recent passing of Benjamin’s mother coming to play in Florida was tough for Benjamin, Newton said.
“For him to come out and give us everything he had, I know it was really emotional for him,” Newton said. “For him to get in the end zone, I know it was well overdue.”
Moving forward the team is 5-3 sitting at second place in the NFC South behind the 5-2 New Orleans Saints. While Panthers are bitter thinking they could have changed the outcome with better offensively play they’re remaining optimistic they are 5-3 midway through the season, Newton said.
Panthers will have another NFC South showdown next Sunday hosting the defending NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons (4-3).
By Gino Terrell