Panthers vs. Buccaneers: Five plays that mattered

jperson@charlotteobserver.comDecember 1, 2013 

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Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) finished with 51-yards receiving on Sunday, giving him 12,084 for his career, good for 20th best in NFL history.

DAVID T. FOSTER, III — dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

1. Newton’s long scramble

The score: Bucs 3, Panthers 0, 7:54 left in first quarter.

The situation: Panthers ball, second-and-11 at the Carolina 29.

The play: With none of his receivers open, quarterback Cam Newton took off running. He picked up a big downfield block by receiver Steve Smith, who knocked cornerback Darrelle Revis into another defender. Newton gained 56 yards to the Tampa Bay 15.

Why it mattered: After the Panthers went three-and-out on their first series, Newton’s scramble gave the offense an early jolt. Two plays after Newton’s season-long run, the Panthers scored on a Brandon LaFell touchdown catch to take the lead.

2. Glennon’s slip-strip

The score: Panthers 7, Bucs 6, 12:38 left in second quarter.

The situation: Bucs ball, third-and-goal at the Carolina 4.

The play: Finding no one open in the end zone, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon scrambled left and tried to throw back across his body. But the ball slipped from his hand, and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards recovered at the 19.

Why it mattered: Following a 60-yard pass from Glennon to Vincent Jackson, the Bucs were in position for at least a field goal and a chance to re-claim the lead. Instead, the Panthers drove 76 yards in 14 plays after the turnover for a field goal to go up 10-6.

3. Olsen’s throwback screen

The score: Panthers 10, Bucs 6, 3:17 left in second quarter.

The situation: Panthers ball, first-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 38.

The play: Newton rolled right and threw back to tight end Greg Olsen, who had a lot of open field in front of him. Olsen followed center Ryan Kalil and guard Travelle Wharton for a 30-yard gain for a first-and-goal at the 8.

Why it mattered: Four plays after Olsen’s catch, Newton dived over the top for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal to put the Panthers up 17-6 at halftime.

4. Mitchell’s interception

The score: Panthers 17, Bucs 6, 13:11 left in third quarter.

The situation: Bucs ball, second-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 46.

The play: Glennon threw toward the right sideline for Jackson, who was covered by Drayton Florence. The ball floated out of Glennon’s hand, and free safety Mike Mitchell intercepted it. Officials initially called Florence for pass interference, but picked up the flag after ruling the ball was well short of Jackson.

Why it mattered: The Panthers quickly capitalized on the turnover, going 78 yards in four plays. Newton hit a streaking Ted Ginn Jr. for a 36-yard touchdown pass that put the Panthers comfortably ahead at 24-6.

5. Smith’s historic conversion

The score: Panthers 24, Bucs 6, 9:57 left in fourth quarter.

The situation: Panthers ball, third-and-9 at the Tampa Bay 32.

The play: With the game all but decided, Newton threw a short pass to Smith, who turned upfield and ran 18 yards for a first down at the Bucs’ 14. The Panthers tacked on a field goal a few plays later.

Why it mattered: The reception gave Smith 51 receiving yards for the day and 12,084 for his career, moving him past former Steelers wideout Hines Ward (12,083) into 20th place on the league’s all-time list.

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