Three takeaways from the Carolina Panthers’ 20-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs.
1. Panthers have a more than capable backup QB.
That has been the popular thinking for the last three-plus years, but since Derek Anderson saw mostly mop-up duty in that span, no one could be certain. But Anderson played a smart game against the Bucs. He didn’t force throws, he protected the ball and took what the Bucs’ Tampa 2 coverage gave him. It might have been a one-week shot, but Anderson made the most of it.
2. Reports of the offensive line’s demise might have been exaggerated.
The Panthers’ reconstituted line against the Bucs’ stout defensive line was supposed to be a mismatch. Not so much. Anderson said he didn’t get hit until the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, and he blamed himself for that. The Bucs only sacked Anderson once, as the Panthers rotated linemen to stay fresh on a hot day.
3. Luke Kuechly can fill up a stat sheet.
More importantly, the reigning defensive player of the year made the biggest defensive play of the game when he stripped Bobby Rainey of the ball on the Bucs’ next-to-last drive. The Panthers recovered, all but ending the Bucs’ comeback attempt. Kuechly’s line: Seven tackles, a sack, a quarterback pressure and that forced fumble.