The Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers rivalry – while not as historically significant as others around the NFL – has become one of the most heated in the league.
It might not have the cachet of Dallas-Washington, Cleveland-Pittsburgh or Green Bay-Chicago (yet), but the Panthers and Buccaneers have established an animosity that comes from their geographical proximity and the fact that their games often go a long way toward deciding who will win the NFC South.
Although things aren't as emotional between the teams as they used to be, there is plenty play for Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., where Carolina (4-1) tries to keep sole possession of first place in the division against the Bucs (3-2).
Here's a look at the rivalry:
By the numbers
2 Teams from NFC South which have played in Super Bowl since division was formed in 2002 (Carolina and Tampa Bay)
5 Straight games won by the Panthers in Tampa
13 Largest winning margin by Bucs (twice, most recently 20-7 in 2007)
24 Largest winning margin Carolina (24-0 in '96)
9-6 Carolina's record against Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp fired back verbally in 2003 when the Panthers' Brentson Buckner said he thought teammate Kris Jenkins was a better player than Sapp?
Sapp responded by telling the Panthers not to “throw rocks at the throne,” since the Buccaneers had won the Super Bowl the previous season.
Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun and Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica feuded in 2003 and '04?
“I'm glad I'm not him,” Sauerbrun said of Gramatica after he missed three field goals in a 21-14 Panthers victory in 2004.
Sauerbrun said he put a hex on Gramatica, who had called Sauerbrun an “idiot” the year before.
The Panthers blocked three kicks – two field goals and an extra point – and beat the Bucs 12-9 in overtime in 2003? That game was part of the Panthers' run to that season's Super Bowl.
In overtime of that game, television cameras caught Tampa Bay offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker poking Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers in the face? Peppers tried to retaliate, but he was restrained.
Carolina knocked around Bucs quarterback Chris Simms in 2006, rupturing his spleen and forcing emergency surgery to have it removed?
“We just feel that they're the biggest rivalry from the standpoint of every time we have played each other we're the two teams that represented the division in the Super Bowl. There's usually some jabbering going on (during) every snap.”
“Yeah, but it's a healthy thing. There's no malicious intent when (Brooks) is on the field.
“I can remember throwing and hearing him talk in that deep voice, ‘I'm gonna getcha, Jake, I'm gonna getcha,' and just laughing.
“Sweet. Let's make it six.”
“It's always hot and humid. You have to be ready to go into a hostile environment – they're shooting them dang cannons off every time they score.”
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