TAMPA - Bucs 16, Panthers 10
A 23-yard field goal by Carolina Panthers kicker Justin Medlock cut Tampa Bay's lead to 16-10 with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
That capped an 86-yard drive led by Cam Newton.
The Panthers, needing a stop to get the ball back and have a chance to win, used two of their three timeouts before allowing a first-down completion from Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson on third and 3. The Bucs were able to run out the clock from there.
The Panthers (0-1) host New Orleans next Sunday.
Bucs 16, Panthers 7
Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth kicked his third field goal of the game as the Bucs capitalized on a Carolina mistake to take a 16-7 lead over the Panthers with 7:58 to play in the fourth quarter.
The field goal was set up by a blocked Carolina punt by Tampa Bay's Aqib Talib, the third big second-half mistake by the Panthers, following two Cam Newton interceptions.
Bucs 13, Panthers 7
The Carolina Panthers cut the Buccaneers lead to 13-7 after three quarters with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Brandon Lafell Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
The touchdown was set up by a Newton pass to Steve Smith, who was wide open on a crossing pattern and absorbed a huge hit along the sideline.
The touchdown, the fifth of Lafell's career, came on the next play.
The second half was delayed briefly by lightning and heavy rain.
The Panthers ended the third quarter with Newton throwing his second interception, by Ahmad Black.
Halftime update: Bucs 13, Panthers 0
This isn't the start the Panthers imagined for their season opener.
Ineffective on both sides of the line, the Panthers find themselves in a 13-0 halftime hole against Tampa Bay today at Raymond James Stadium. The Carolina offense finished the first half with 1- yards rushing and never got deeper than the Tampa 33-yard line.
Just after the teams left the field for halftime, lightning strikes and heavy rained caused the NFL to put the game under a delay. The third quarter resumed after an extended halftime.
Playing in front of a less than full house, the Panthers immediately found themselves struggling on defense, allowing the Bucs to put together an impressive 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on their first possession for a 7-0 lead.
The Bucs mixed the run and pass, picking at holes in the Panthers' defense, using play-action to keep them off balance. Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman found Mike Williams on a 6-yard touchdown pass for the opening score.
Another familiar problem surfaced when the Panthers were forced to punt on their second possession. Captain Munnerlyn was penalized 15 yards for hitting Sammie Stroughter on a fair catch, rekindling memories of the Panthers' special teams problems last season.
The short field led to a 36-yard Connor Barth field goal and a 10-0 Tampa lead late in the first quarter.
Later in the second quarter, the Bucs marched 90 yards in 13 plays, moving to the Carolina 1-yard line before settling for a 20-yard field goal by Barth.
Freeman completed 12 of 14 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown for the Bucs while Cam Newton was 12 for 17 for 110 yards.
-- Ron Green Jr.
Bucs 13, Panthers 0
Connor Barth's 20-yard field goal gave the Tampa Bay Bucs a 13-0 lead over the Carolina Panthers with 2:55 to play in the first half Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
The 13-play, 90-yard drive could have resulted in a touchdown, but consecutive stellar plays from Carolina's Thomas Davis, returning this season from a third ACL surgery on the same knee, kept Tampa out of the end zone.
Tampa Bay's offense has dominated the Panthers' defense in the first half. Two 13-play drives and a solid defense have kept Cam Newton off the field and Carolina out of the end zone.
Bucs 10, Panthers 0
Connor Barth's 36-hyard field goal extended the Tampa Bay Bucs' lead over the Carolina Panthers to 10-0 late in the first quarter. The Panthers have managed one first down in two possessions thus far.
Bucs 7, Panthers 0
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used a 13-play drive capped by a Josh Freeman to Mike Williams touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead over the Carolina Panthers with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
Freeman was 7-for-7 on the drive as the Bucs took advantage of an aggressive defense with play-action passes.
The Panthers surprised a few observers by keeping receiver Armanti Edwards on the 53-man roster.
In a mild surprise, Edwards is active for today's game against the Bucs.
Edwards is not expected to be a major part of the receiving rotation. But he is the top backup to both kickoff returner Kealoha Pilares and punt retuner Joe Adams.
Injured running back Jonathan Stewart, who Tweeted this morning he was out with an ankle injury, is the biggest name on the Panthers' inactive list.
The others: QB Jimmy Clausen, S D.J. Campbell, OL Bruce Campbell, DT Sione Fua, DE Thomas Keiser and OL Jeff Byers, who is out with a knee injury.
Keiser had a strong preseason as a pass-rusher. But the Panthers evidently want to see how rookie DE Frank Alexander, a fourth-round draft choice, performs in live action.