Tampa Bay combined a ball control offense with an opportunistic defense in a 16-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. The Buccaneers held the football for over 37 minutes and still needed to run the clock out in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Tampa led 13-7 heading into the fourth quarter and extended the lead to 16-7 with a 40-yard field goal from Connor Barth. The Panthers would threaten but a couple of nice plays by the Bucs' defense on runs by Cam Newton forced Carolina to settle for a 21-yard field goal to cut the lead to 16-10.
The Panthers elected to kick it deep rather than go for the on-side kick with just over two minutes remaining but were unable to get the ball back. Tampa converted two first downs, one on a nice completion to Vincent Jackson and another on a 15-yard run by Doug Martin to help seal the victory.
Josh Freeman did a good job of managing the game finishing 16 of 24 for 138 yards and a touchdown. Martin finished with 95 yards on 24 carries while Jackson hauled in four passes for 47 yards. The most important stat for the Buccaneers however was zero turnovers on the afternoon.
Cam Newton got rolling late but two interceptions proved costly in the loss. Newton finished 23 of 33 for 303 yards and a touchdown to go along with those two picks. Steve Smith hauled in seven passes for 106 yards but was held out of the end zone. Carolina's ground game without Jonathan Stewart was non-existant rushing for 10 total yards on 13 carries.
Next up for Tampa Bay is a trip to New York to take on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
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