ReFo: Buccaneers @ Panthers, Week 15
In a game which had much more on the line than your average game between two teams with losing records this late in the year, the Carolina Panthers kept their playoff and divisional dreams alive with a tough fought win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Cam Newton’s injury it was backup Derek Anderson who got the start against Tampa Bay for the second time this year and, while he was far from perfect, he was good enough and made the most of the weapons around him.
With the Panthers’ playoff hopes on the line, we saw plenty of noteworthy performances so, with that in mind, let’s take a look at three from each.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Performances of Note
Alterraun Verner, CB: +4.9
Breakdown: With the exception of a couple of minor blips, Verner has had a very good first season in Tampa Bay and continued it here, allowing just four receptions for 38 yards and breaking up two passes.
Signature Play: Q2, 11.19 remaining. The first of those pass break-ups came here, beating wide receiver Philly Brown to the ball on the out route to swat the ball away.
Josh McCown, QB: -4.5
Breakdown: Struggling for the fourth game in a row now, McCown had a tough time getting the Tampa Bay offense moving, and was under heavy pressure for much of the game. Failing to complete any of the six passes he attempted of 20 yards or more, he couldn’t challenge Carolina downfield.
Signature Stat: Finding himself under pressure on 17 of his 33 drop-backs, McCown had an Accuracy Percentage of just 41.7% on these plays.
Lavonte David, LB: +4.2
Breakdown: Like Verner, David was a bright spot on the Tampa Bay defense and looks to be playing at the level we have come to expect from him again after a very average start to the year. Finishing the game with eight defensive stops, David showed his worth against the run, in coverage, and even as a pass rusher where he chipped in with a sack.
Signature Play: Q3, 3:39 remaining. This one came in coverage as he knocked down the pass intended for tight end Greg Olsen on the hitch route.
Carolina Panthers – Performances of Note
Mike Remmers, RT: +4.6
Breakdown: Have the Panthers found something in Remmers? A 2012 undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, he hasn’t just graded positively in each of his three starts this year, he’s actually improved in each. Perfect in pass protection, he also added some nice blocks against the run.
Signature Stat: Through the past three weeks, no offensive tackle has a higher Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating than Remmers’ 99.4.
Charles Johnson, DE: +8.9
Breakdown: Matched up against Oneil Cousins for much of the game, Johnson took full advantage to produced his highest-graded game of the year so far, by some distance. A sack, two hits and seven hurries were the final tally as he put McCown under as much pressure as possible.
Signature Play: Q3, 14:48 remaining. Rounding the edge on Cousins with ease on 3rd-and-15, he sacked McCown, with the QB fumbling the ball in the process.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR: +1.7
Breakdown: With nine dropped passes on the year Benjamin hasn’t been quite as impressive as some of the other wide receivers drafted in the first round of May’s draft, but he has been productive and put up one of his best games of the season against Tampa Bay. Going over 100 yards for the third time, he displayed good hands and didn’t drop a single pass.
Signature Play: Q3, 12:07 remaining. Bringing the ball in on an in route on 1st-and-10, Benjamin made a move and forced a missed tackle from safety Dashon Goldson as he picked up another first down.
PFF Game Ball
He took advantage of a serious mismatch going up against Cousins, but that was a dominant performance from Charles Johnson all the same, doing his best to stall the Tampa Bay offense at every opportunity.
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