When you create five turnovers and your opponent wastes good drives with missed field goals, you don’t need much offense.
The Carolina Panthers waxed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-23 Sunday with only 124 passing yards from quarterback Cam Newton as the defense intercepted rookie quarterback Jameis Winston four times.
Cornerback Josh Norman, who was the key to victory in Week 1 and sealed the win last week against New Orleans, had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The game also saw the first offensive touchdown of the season that Newton did not account for. On a third-quarter rush by Jonathan Stewart, the ball came free but popped right into the hands of tight end Ed Dickson, who rushed the remaining 57 yards for the score.
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The Panthers are 4-0 for the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2003, when the team went to the Super Bowl.
“There’s an old cliche that says ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,’” Newton said. “And we view this season in increments of quarters, and every four games is a quarter for us. So the first quarter we passed with flying colors, 4-0, and we just got to get juiced up and ready for the next four (games).”
Three who mattered
Ryan Delaire: On Washington’s practice squad just a week ago, the undrafted rookie out of Towson had two sacks and almost had a third when Winston grounded the ball late in the fourth quarter.
Brenton Bersin: Bersin had a career-high four catches for 54 yards as he led all Panthers receivers. He hadn’t caught four passes in a regular-season game since he was at Wofford in 2011.
Kawann Short: Short, a third-year defensive tackle, tipped a Winston pass that would be Winston’s second interception of the game. Short continued his play as the most consistent defensive lineman for the team.
▪ Thomas Davis finished the game with 11 tackles, tied for his most since Week 5 of last season against Chicago.
▪ The weather was unpredictable. The teams began in the rain, then it cleared, then it rained harder before getting a mostly dry second half.
▪ The Panthers extended their streak of games with more than 100 rushing yards to 15 after the 133-yard performance Sunday. It’s the longest active streak in the NFL in front the 14 for Seattle, which plays Monday night.
▪ It’s breast cancer awarness month in the NFL but there wasn’t a lot of pink on the field. Players don’t have to wear pink, so there were only a handful of towels and cleats that were pink.
▪ After Ted Ginn Jr.’s second touchdown of the day, he scanned the nearby crowd for a child to give the ball to. Ginn couldn’t find a Panthers fan in the area so he gave it to a child wearing a Bucs shirt.
▪ Receiver Kevin Norwood was inactive for a second consecutive game as the Panthers went with Bersin and Joe Webb over the player they traded for in the preseason.
▪ The Bucs extended their home losing streak to 11 games. The last time Tampa won at home was December 2013.
▪ Ron Rivera is 9-for-24 all-time on challenges after winning one in the first half and losing one late in the fourth quarter.
They said it
▪ “I rode Delta and I got penalized for it.” – Panthers CB Josh Norman on his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrating his interception for a touchdown by riding the football horseback.
▪ “We still haven’t played the football we are capable of.” – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton
▪ “For our fans, the loyal fans that keep coming to our games at home, they need to see a better product on the football field than that.” – Bucs coach Lovie Smith
▪ “No, I will never lose (confidence). Confidence will never be an issue. I’ve just got to work harder. That was a wake-up call to my work ethic. I have to work harder.” – Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston
▪ “It’s nice to be in the situation we are in. We still think we have room to improve and be a better football team.” – Panthers coach Ron Rivera