The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a huge victory over the Carolina Panthers last night as rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo knocked a 38-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to give the Bucs a 17-14 victory. According to Scott Smith of the NFL, the Buccaneers earned their first Monday Night Football win since 2003 when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener.
The game itself was not a thing of beauty as both teams made several mistakes as they were missing key members on both sides of the ball. But in the end, quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Jacquizz Rogers got the job done leading the Buccaneers 66 yards over the final 1:49 of the game.
Tampa Bay started its final drive at the Carolina 14-yard line after forcing the Panthers to go three and out. After two runs by Rogers that netted a total of three yards, Winston hooked up with veteran receiver Mike Evans for 11 yards on a short pass to the right to give the Buccaneers a first down. A few plays later, Winston connected with Rogers for another key first down on a 3rd and 4 from their own 34 for eight yards. Winston completed two more passes in the series to finish the drive four-for-five for 44 yards. The drive was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty by defensive lineman Kony Early on a running play that the Panthers initially stopped Rogers for no gain. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a first down at the Carolina 17-yard line with 41 seconds remaining and set up Aguayo’s game-winner.
Aguayo, who Tampa Bay traded up to select in the second round of the draft, missed two field goal attempts in the game, including a 46-yarder just three minutes and 38 seconds earlier. He finished the game with three field goals (on five attempts) and is now four-for-eight on the season.
Jenna Lane of ESPN reported that despite Aguayo’s struggles, his teammates showed their support for him during the game, and he said that meant the world to him.
“They all said, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming’ and it came and I ended up making it.”
Tampa Bay got back to roots last night, and it helped the Buccaneers to improve to 2-3 on the season, and 2-0 in NFC South play. The Bucs controlled the ball for 34:09 as they ran the ball 37 times for 113 yards, to mark their first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Winston came into the game averaging over 44 passes in the team’s first four games, he finished the game 18-of-30 for 219 yards and one touchdown.
Carolina outgained by nearly 100 yards in total offense (414-to-315) despite not having 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton (concussion) behind center. Veteran backup Derek Anderson, making his third start in the past six seasons, made a few mistakes but was good for most of the game. Anderson completed 18-of-28 passes for 278 yards and two interceptions.
Carolina falls to 1-4 and has now lost three straight games. The Panthers are the seventh team to start the season 1-4 or worse after reaching the Super Bowl the previous season and currently have a 7 percent chance of making the playoffs per ESPN Stats & Info.
The rest of the article will look at the good, bad and ugly of the game.
Greg Olsen, Carolina TE: Olsen had an outstanding game, catching a season-high nine passes for 181 yards, which is the most yards in Olsen’s 10-year career and the most ever by a Panthers’ tight end. Olsen had six receptions of 20 or more yards, including one that went for 34 yards. He moved past Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow for eight all-time in yards receiving among NFL tight ends during the game.
Jacquizz Rogers, Tampa Bay RB: Rogers, the team’s No. 3 running back, started the game as Doug Martin and Charles Sims are injured. The five-foot-six back ran the ball 30 times for 101 yards, with 71 yards coming on 17 attempts in the first half. He added five receptions for 28 yards.
The game marked the first time Rogers has surpassed the 100-yard mark in his career and was also the first time a Buccaneers running back has reached the century mark this season.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina RB: Artis-Payne had a very good game, running for a career-high 85 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. The second-year pro did most of his damage in the second half, scoring twice and gaining 73 yards on eight attempts.
Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay: Evans is on pace for a career season as he already has 32 catches and four touchdowns. The 23-year-old had six receptions for 89-yards, including a 26-yard catch for a touchdown versus the Panthers.
Brent Grimes, CB Tampa Bay: Grimes picked off Anderson’s pass in the end zone. He finished with four tackles and almost had another interception as he jumped the route of a receiver. Grimes also had two passes defensed.
Bradley McDougal S Tampa Bay: McDougal led the team with eight total tackles and six solo takedowns. He also swatted away a pass.
Luke Kuechly, LB Carolina: Kuechly is one of the best linebackers in the game, and he showed his typical consistency as the Panthers defensive line struggled. He finished with a game-high 11 tackles with one being for a loss.
Penalties in key situations: Both teams had penalties in key situations, with perhaps the biggest coming on the Buccaneers final drive. Tampa Bay was penalized five times for 40 yards, while Carolina was flagged seven times for 60 yards.
Carolina turnovers: The Panthers turned the ball over four times, with Anderson having three of those. Anderson’s biggest mistake came when he threw an interception on first and goal from the one-and-a-half yard line with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter as he tried to force a pass in the end zone to Olsen.
Carolina leads the league with 14 turnovers and is tied for second-to-last with a minus-7 turnover differential.
Carolina third down conversions: The Panthers were only one-of-eight on their third down attempts. They failed to convert a first down twice on third-and-two or less. In addition, Anderson lost a fumble after gaining a first down early in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay red zone offense: The Bucs did not score a touchdown in four red zone attempts. Tampa ended up with just six points in their four trips inside the 20.
Special teams: Both teams struggled on special teams.
Aguayo came up big when it counted for Tampa, but he missed two field goals (33 and 46 yards). Punter Bryan Anger was solid punting the ball five times for a 45.0-yard average. Anger pinned Carolina inside the 20 twice and finished with a 43.8 net average.
While Tampa was not spectacular on special teams, the Bucs were much better than the Panthers. Carolina lost a fumble when Teddy Williams collided with Ted Ginn Jr. as Ginn was trying to field a punt that gave Tampa the ball on the Panthers 30- yard line. Ginn also made a mistake by bringing out a kick from the end zone and reaching just the 21-yard line (rather than taking the touchback and getting the ball at the 25).
Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed his only field goal attempt as he shanked a 43-yard attempt wide left. Punter Andy Lee was okay, averaging 44.3 yards on four punts, but he booted one a little too far for a touchback.
[Featured Image by Bob Leverone/AP Image]