The Munnerlyn penalty
The setup: Panthers punting on fourth-and-4 from their 26, 3:56 remaining in first quarter.
What happened: Captain Munnerlyn, in gunner position on punt team, runs over Sammie Stroughter, who had called for fair catch. The interference penalty gave the Bucs a first down at midfield.
Why it mattered: Instead of starting at their 35, the Bucs were given a short field and took advantage. Dallas Clark’s 33-yard catch on the next play helped set up a Connor Barth field goal.
The false start
The setup: Panthers faced third-and-6 at Bucs’ 37, with 36 seconds left in second quarter.
What happened: After the Panthers took a timeout to set up their third-down play, right guard Geoff Hangartner moved early.
Why it mattered: The five-yard penalty set up a third-and-long, which the Panthers failed to convert, and took them out of field goal range.
The tipped interception
The setup: Panthers’ ball, first-and-10 from their 41, with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.
What happened: Cam Newton threw deep into coverage on a pass intended for Brandon LaFell. Aqib Talib tipped the ball and Ronde Barber, who made his 200th start, intercepted and returned it to midfield.
Why it mattered: The Panthers trailed 13-7 at the time and had their best starting field position – at the Bucs’ 41 following a 21-yard punt return by Joe Adams.
The blocked punt
The setup: Panthers punting, fourth-and-9 from the Bucs’ 48, with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
What happened: Talib came off the left end untouched to block Brad Nortman’s punt. The Bucs took over at their 42, and added a Connor Barth field goal eight plays later.
Why it mattered: The Panthers added several special teams veterans in the hopes of improving their special teams. One of them – Haruki Nakamura – failed to account for Talib, helping the Bucs tack on a field goals and make it a two-score game.
The killer first down
The setup: The Bucs faced third-and-2 from their 26, with 2:28 left in fourth quarter.
What happened: Josh Freeman faked a handoff and threw over the middle to Vincent Jackson for a four-yard reception.
Why it mattered: With the Panthers already having burned two timeouts, Jackson’s conversion was the game-sealer for the Bucs.