Refocused: Carolina Panthers 17, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
The Carolina Panthers stymied the NFL’s top passing offense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, en route to a 17-3 victory and a 5-3 overall record, right in the thick of things in the NFC South. Panthers QB Cam Newton threw for only 154 yards on 18-of-32 passing, but was effective enough in capitalizing on the mistakes made by the Buccaneers offense.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston threw two interceptions and lost a fumble trying to force a throw, and the Panthers defense limited the Bucs to just 279 total yards of offense. RB Doug Martin had success on the day, gaining 71 yards on 18 carries but down two scores late, was forced to abandon the run game.
The Buccaneers defense also played well, but were left in tough positions after turnovers and actually held the Panthers to less total yards and two-less first downs than their offense generated, but Carolina’s time of possession margin and three turnovers generated were more than enough to defeat the Bucs. With that, we give you our PFF exclusive takeaways from the contest for each team.
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of Note:
QB Cam Newton, 47.8 overall grade
Newton completed 18-of-32 of his passes for 154 yards with a drop and also had an interception and touchdown. Newton completed only one of his five pass attempts on deep passes against Tampa (20-plus yards downfield). Probably his best throw of the game, a corner route to Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown, essentially put the game away. Most of Newton’s completions were easier throws and of the shorter range variety.
OT Daryl Williams, 87.0 overall grade
Williams was perfect in pass protection as he surrendered no pressures on 34 passing snaps. Williams also produced some nice run blocks in Carolina’s power blocking scheme. Carolina was content playing conservative with the lead in the second half.
LB Luke Kuechly, 86.6 overall grade
Kuechly effectively ended the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter, and was outstanding in coverage throughout the day. He also had a pass break-up, and chased down a screen pass from well-off the ball, holding the play to a limited gain as opposed to a potential huge catch and run. His 90.2 coverage grade was the best in the game for either squad, and he tallied six solo tackles with three total defensive stops.
CB James Bradberry, 49.2 overall grade
Bradberry had the unenviable task of guarding Bucs’ superstar WR Mike Evans, with mixed results. While he did notch a pass break up and an interception (which came off a pass altered by a hit on Winston), he also gave up six catches for 79 yards. His worst play of the game ended up being an incomplete pass, as Winston overthrew Evans downfield in the fourth quarter on a pass that should have been a touchdown to his wide open receiver.
Top 5 Grades:
Performances of Note:
QB Jameis Winston, 51.1 overall grade
Winston did not handle the blitz well, as he completed just 10-of-19 passes against an extra rusher for 120 yards and both of his interceptions. His passer rating against the blitz, not surprisingly, was just 32.7, and when he felt pressure, it was even worse (28.6).
C Ali Marpet, 85.2 overall grade
Marpet had an excellent day against a tough defensive line in both phases. He posted a run blocking grade of 81.9, and was the only member of the Bucs’ offensive line to post a clean slate in pass protection. RB Doug Martin was at his best running to either side of Marpet, as he accumulated 33 yards on five runs off his center.
CB Vernon Hargreaves, 88.0 overall grade
Hargreaves put on a show in the Bucs secondary. Hargreaves had a stop in run defense but it was his coverage skills where he shined. Hargreaves was targeted seven times and yielded two receptions for 13 yards. Hargreaves even had a couple nice pass breakups as Tampa’s defense forced Carolina’s offense off the field time and time again.
LB Lavonte David, 84.1 overall grade
David made two stops in run defense and he was solid in his defensive responsiblites against Carolina’s power rushing schemes. David flashed his versatility in his abillity to play coverage and make plays in run defense.
PFF Game Ball: Luke Kuechly, LB
*Grades are subject to change upon review