A better start for the Bucs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the game on offense but were up against the best team in the league when it came to not allowing points on the opening drive.
The Panthers did just that stopping Tom Brady and his offense and the Bucs punted the ball after a three and out. The Panthers did a bit better in their opening drive as Cam Newtown drove his offense down the field which ended with Lirim Hajrullaho kicking a 24-yard field goal for the first points of the game and an early 3-0 lead.
The Bucs scored on their second drive of the game as Brady handed it off to Ke'Shawn Vaughn ran in a 55-yard touchdown and Tampa took a 7-3 lead. The defense came up big for Tampa as well as Newtown got picked off by Jordan Whitehead and Brady got the ball back.
Brady tried to take advantage of the interception but the Bucs ended up with Ryan Succop kicking a 35-yard field goal to make it 10-3. For Carolina's next drive Sam Darnold made his return from injury.
The home crowd wasn't happy with the move as we heard loud boos as he ran onto the field. The Bucs defense stood tall and the Panthers ended up kicking a 29-yard field goal to reduce the deficit to four points.
Tampa tried to extend its lead but ended up with Succop kicking a 43-yard field goal to make it 13-6 after Brady failed to convert on a 3rd and three pass attempt.
With 1:19 on the clock, Brady found Cameron Brate in the endzone and the Bucs went for an extra two points but it was no good and the score was 19-6.
The first half finished with the visitors up 19-6 one half away from a spot in the playoffs and an NFC South division title which hadn't been won since Jeff Garcia was the starting quarterback.
The Bucs continue to dominate
The Panthers started the second half on offense but again the Buccaneers defense did a good job stopping the offense and regaining possession of the ball. The Bucs drove down the field again and came close but again kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it 22-6.
The Tampa defense came up huge once again putting immense pressure on Newtown and forcing Carolina to once again punt the ball On the ensuing drive Brady did it again driving the ball down the field and Ronald Jones Jr ran in a seven-yard touchdown for a 23 point lead.
On 4th and 11 the Panthers went for it on their next drive but Darnold's pass went incomplete and again they failed to get points on the board.
The Bucs extended their lead this time with another field goal when Ryan Succop kicked it from 41 yards out to make it 32-6. With 3:50 left in the game, Blaine Gabbert came in and Le'Veon Bell came in for his first rep as a Buc.
On the final possession of the game, Carolina tried one more drive and got to the goal line but failed to convert going for it on fourth down.
The final seconds ticked off and Tampa Bay had clinched a playoff spot and an NFC South title which they hadn't done since way back in 2007. Brady finished with a stat line of 18 for 30, 232 yards, and one touchdown.
The defense finished the day with an impressive six sacks and only allowed six points on the board for the opposing offense. The Bucs will now travel to New York to face the Jets next Sunday.