Instant Reaction: Tampa Bay’s Defense Stands Tall for First Win of Season

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TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 11: Vernon Hargreaves III (28) of the Buccaneers waves to the fans during the NFL Game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 11, 2016, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Defense, defense, defense! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers leave Carolina 1-1 on the season as they hold off the Carolina Panthers in prime time.

First Half

After a nice catch and run of 22 yards by Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers stalled on their first drive. Bradley Pinion pinned the Panthers inside their own 10-yard line. Tampa’s rookie inside linebacker Devin White went down with an apparent knee or leg injury during the first series but did walk off on his own power. Later on, in the quarter, White was ruled OUT for the remainder of the game.

The Panthers moved it across mid-field, but safety Jordan Whitehead made a great stop on 4th and one to turn the ball over on downs. Just after the play was suspended due to a weather delay that lasted about 27 minutes. The Buccaneers started with great field position but had to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt, which Matt Gay drilled. The Panthers responded with a solid drive of their own, which also resulted in a field goal.

After a nice defensive stand, a 48-yard Bobo Wilson punt return was negated by a block in the back call on Rookie Jamel Dean. Penalties were the story of the first half for the Buccaneers. Multiple crucial false starts and too many men in the huddle penalty really show how undisciplined this team is. Carlton Davis made a great play to deflect a Cam Newton pass on third down, forcing Carolina to settle for another short field goal. Winston finally threw a pretty deep ball; he connected with Mike Evans on a 41-yard beauty to move into Panthers territory.

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Second Half

Tampa Bay’s defense continued to keep Newton at bay by starting the half with a sack by Shaq Barrett. This inevitably stalled the Panthers drive. The Bucs were able to drive the ball down the field with some help from Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, and Jameis Winston to get a rushing touchdown by Barber.

Again, the defense came out to play as rookie Anthony Nelson forces a fumble on Newton, giving the BUccaneers the ball on the Carolina 45. After moving the ball to the Carolina 24, rookie kicker Matt Gay misses a field goal attempt to the right.

Carolina gets the ball to start the fourth quarter and they never move past the 50 due to a few penalties. The Bucs are then pinned at their own two-yard line when Barber is stopped behind the goal line for a safety.

On Carolina’s next possession, the Buccaneers defense once again makes a stand on fourth down causing them to turn the ball over on downs. Tampa Bay would go on to gain -15 yards on three plays before they punt it back to the Panthers. After Carolina does much of the same, the Buccaneers drive the ball down the field for 53 yards in 11 plays, eating up a big 6:32 seconds of the clock. This drive ends with a 32-yard field goal to put the Bucs up 20-14.

After the Panthers drive the ball down the field in 11 plays for 73 yards in a little over a minute, the Buccaneers defense holds them to no points thanks to cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves was able to prevent running back Christain McCaffrey from gaining the first down by pursuing him laterally and out of bounds.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would go onto their victory formation and gain their first win of the season. A big win to start their long break before they take on the New York Giants at home to close out the month of September.

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