NFL NEWS: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The final score didn’t reflect the sloppy performance from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exhibited against the Carolina Panthers in their season opener Sunday.
It could have been much worse for Lovie Smith and company. Through the Bucs seven offensive drives prior to their first score of the game in the fourth quarter, they generated a combined 150 yards, five punts and two interceptions.
The Panthers were up 17-0 behind the seldom pressured backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who was in relief of the injured Cam Newton, before Bucs quarterback Josh McCown finally broke out of his futility and tossed a 19 yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Owusu on a six-play, 62 yard drive.
After forcing the Panthers to punt from their own 40, the Bucs followed up on a nine-play, 61 yard drive closing out with another McCown TD pass this time to backup running back Bobby Rainey for a six yard TD.
The Bucs got the ball back on another three-and-out inside the two minute warning before a Rainey fumble proved to be too costly before the Panthers were able to run more clock to kick a field goal to make it 20-14. By the time the Bucs got the ball back, it was too little, too late.
The Bucs finished with a combined 264 yards of offense with 162 passing and 102 rushing. Most of the rushing yards were generated by fullback Jorvorskie Lane‘s 54-yard run from his lone carry in the first quarter. Running back Doug Martin was held to nine carries for nine yards before leaving with a knee injury in the third quarter. Another key fixture on the offense, guard Logan Mankins had to leave during the first quarter with a knee injury. With Mankins’ future uncertain, Richie Incognito becomes an option again.
The gassed Bucs defense only registered one sack against Anderson while giving up 221 passing and 113 rushing yards to Panthers’ offense.
The Bucs will have another chance to prove their offense is more than what they’ve shown with offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford returning to call the plays when they face the visiting St. Louis Rams, who are coming off a 34-6 trouncing from the Minnesota Vikings.