By Max Luckan
It looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back to their old ways. After winning three games in a row, and appearing to finally get in some kind of rhythm, the Bucs were back to playing the way they did in the first eight games of this season.
Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers appear to be unstoppable right now. After narrowly defeating the Miami Dolphins last week, the Panthers played well on both sides of the ball against a Bucs team that wasn’t going to go down without a fight. But after jumping out on top early, the Panthers were able to cruise to an easy 27-6 victory.
Quarterback Grade: C-
Maybe you have forgotten that Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon is still a rookie. The reason for that could be that Glennon has not played like a rookie as of late. But against a tough Panthers defense on Sunday, he certainly did look like a rookie.
Glennon completed 14-21 passes for 180 yards, but threw an interception and failed to throw a touchdown pass. Glennon also fumbled the ball in the first half, causing a huge shift in momentum. Against a top defense, Glennon looked nervous at times and held on to the ball too long on certain occasions. On top of that, he was sacked five times throughout the game. He will certainly look to rebound next game.
Offense Grade: D
Yes, the Panthers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but that’s no excuse. The Bucs only managed six points on Sunday and there was no way they were going to win the game scoring only six points. The running game was shut down almost entirely. Running back Bobby Rainey carried the ball 17 times, but only managed 63 yards, with most of those coming in the second half.
The passing game, as evidenced by Glennon’s performance, was also practically nonexistent and the Bucs failed to score a single touchdown. The offense has been inconsistent all season long, but after playing well three weeks in a row, this performance was unexpected.
Defense Grade: D
Coming into this game, the Panthers had won seven games in a row, and quarterback Cam Newton had been on a roll. The Bucs knew that stopping Newton was not going to be easy, but they didn’t even try on Sunday.
Newton rushed for 68 yards and threw for 263 but the Panthers moved the ball with ease the entire game. Of course, the Panthers also capitalized on turnovers, but the Bucs defense did not perform well. However, they were able to force a couple turnovers that didn’t amount to anything big. The pass rush has to step up for Tampa Bay, otherwise the defense will continue to play poorly.
Special Teams Grade: C-
The special teams play for the Bucs was also dreadful. Then again, this unit provided the only points in the entire game for the team. Kicker Rian Lindell, whose inconsistency is back in a big way, nailed two field goals, including one 53-yarder, but missed another.
Kick returner Eric Page, who actually has done very well on returns this season, was unable to give the Bucs any type of advantage in the field position battle. In past weeks, this special teams unit has made some big plays that have given the Bucs huge boosts in momentum, but they were unable to provide that against a stout Carolina Panthers team.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.