The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will walk out of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte with perhaps one of the most impressive wins in their history.
With six minutes remaining in the game, the Carolina Panthers scored and brought their lead to 11. Within two minute, the Buccaneers added a field goal, cutting the lead to eight. Needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion, the Buccaneer defense forced the Panthers to punt and gave the offense the ball with 1:02 left in the game.
In the final 62 seconds, with no timeouts, the Buccaneers showed their resolve and drove 80 yards, scoring on a 24-yard connection between QB Josh Freeman and WR Vincent Jackson in traffic. The two connected again on the conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime.
After winning the coin toss, the rejuvenated Buccaneer offense and breathless Panther defense were back on the field. The overtime drive was powered on the ground by Doug Martin and, from the 15-yard line, it was Freeman’s arm again that scored the game-winner. Freeman hit Dallas Clark in the front left corner of the end zone to seal the win. Josh Freeman ended the game with 248 yards and three touchdowns. He was also intercepted twice. Vincent Jackson led the charge for the Buccaneer receivers, catching six balls for 94 yards and the game tying touchdown and two-point conversion. TE Dallas Clark, who caught the game-winner in overtime had seven receptions for 58 yards. TE Nate Bynum had the first touchdown reception from three yards out.
Doug Martin led all rushers on the day, once again breaking 100-yards rushing. It is his seventh consecutive game with more than 100 total yards, tying a Buccaneer record. Martin had four receptions for 23 yards and added 138 on the ground.
Defensively, LB Lavonte David again led the attack with nine total tackles. Both Michael Bennett and DaQuan Bowers added sacks to their records. The first touchdown of the game was set up by a special teams fumble, forced by Jacob Cutrera and recovered by LB Dekota Watson.
For Carolina, QB Cam Newton ended the day with 252 passing yards and a touchdown. The score went to WR Brandon LaFell who ended the day with 96 yards receiving. WR Steve Smith put up 61 yards on five catches and TE Greg Olsen added 42 on two catches.
The running game for the Panthers was vastly improved from their 10-yard performance the first time they faced the Bucs on opening day. Jonathan Stewart led the attack with 43 yards and a score. Cam Newton had 40 rushing yards of his own.
The Panthers had two game-changing plays on defense, both stealing momentum from the Buccaneers. The first was an interception by CB Captain Munnerlyn who made up for his special teams fumble with a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown. The other big play came at the goal line as the Buccaneers were two yards away from scoring. LB Thomas Davis forced the Doug Martin fumble that was recovered in the end zone by LB Luke Kuechly. The Panthers second interception came from S Haruki Nakamura.
The Buccaneers will go back to Tampa Bay with a 6-4 record. They will face the 9-1 Atlanta Falcons in Raymond James Stadium next Sunday.