Regardless of the outcome, everyone enjoys a good game and the Bucs versus Panthers gave fans that. Heading into Thursday night’s match up, Carolina was favored to win by 6.5. Due to the close game the Panthers had against the Rams in week, there were a lot of strengths displayed that placed Carolina as the “clear” winner. Starting with the Panther’s defense allowing the 6th lowest passer rating in the league for week against the Rams.
After Winston’s week 1 performance, it was assumed that the Panthers defense would have controlled Winston’s game, but Jameis came out and showed maturity and growth in his game. Winston showed faster decision making and quick and effective releases of the ball. As mention in pre-game Winston was assumed to do better with decision making with his top target back in the game, Evans had an impactful 41-yard catch, but the play maker of last night’s game was Chris Godwin with 121 receiving yards.
Statistically, Carolina had more passing 1st downs and total plays, but Tampa Bay surprisingly over shadowed the Panthers and the leading running back, Christian McCaffery by having 12 more rushing attempts than the Panthers and averaging 1.1 more yards per rush. Week 1, we saw more of a running game out of the Bucs between Barber and Jones, but against Carolina, Barber was the leading running back, rushing for 82 yards and scoring 1 of the Bucs 2 touchdowns.
Tampa Bay’s defense was another underestimated element to last night’s match up. The Bucs defense truly kept them in the game yet again, locking down the red zone and securing a major play 4th down play in the 4th quarter that could have handed Carolina the game. We have seen some key plays made by cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves in week 1 with his pick 6 and now week 2 with his shoving McCaffery out of bounds, eliminating the Panthers last chance for a win.