We all know the story. In Week One, the Buccaneers held Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and the rest of the Carolina running attack to 10 yards. The Panthers ran 13 times all game, including Newton’s scrambles, which comes out to just .8 yards per carry. Carolina’s leading rusher was a wide receiver, Kealoha Pilares.
Can we expect another 10-yarder? It’s unlikely. Since Week One, the Carolina Panthers have jumped to 15th in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 109. They have gotten Jonathan Stewart back, who missed the first game due to injury, and both Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams have gotten their feet beneath them. The trio has accumulated 873 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns this season.
But the matchup makes a strong case for another dominant run-stopping Buccaneers performance. In addition to the previous meeting between the two, the Buccaneers have held on to the title of the best rushing defense in the league, holding opponents to 80 yards per game on the ground. Carolina is also coming off their second-worst rushing performance of the year, mustering just 52 yards against the Denver Broncos’ 10th ranked run defense.
But, perhaps the most telling stat, and the biggest testament to the Buccaneers run defense is that Pilares had a run of five yards, Newton had a long of four yards, Williams ran a seven-yarder and Mike Tolbert took a carry for two yards. Yet despite a combined 18 yards on these four carries, the other nine carries dropped the grand total to 10. The Buccaneers registered nine tackles for a loss in the first game of the season. Going into Week 11, the Buccaneers continue to lead the league in the “Stuffs” category with 43, more than double what the Panthers have managed this year, but that is beside the point.
With Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart all healthy this go-round, the Bucs will surely be facing a different kind of rushing attack than they saw in the first meeting. But with only 13 rushing attempts in the first game after being frustrated all day, it would not be a surprise to see the a similar outcome in Charlotte this Sunday.
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