Panthers punch playoff ticket over Buccaneers, 22-19

Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Carolina Panthers defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon in Week 16, 22-19. Here are all the highlights, the game recap and final score.

It was a thrilling game that went down to the final minute, but the Carolina Panthers were able to secure their 11th victory of the season by sinking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 22-19. With that 11th win, Carolina clinched its fourth playoff berth in the NFC in five years. Tampa Bay continues its slide to 4-11 on the year.

Tampa Bay largely outplayed the Panthers for most of the game. However, a late missed 51-yard field goal off the toe of Patrick Murray eventually set up the Panthers for a game-winning touchdown. Carolina and Tampa Bay would battle inside of the red zone. A Buccaneers holding penalty would ultimately lead to a two-yard Cam Newton scamper to pay dirt to make the NFC playoffs.

Carolina is really cooking at this point of the season. Regardless of if the Panthers win the division, they can still can by the way, nobody will want to go up against Newton and the Carolina defense in January. If the Panthers win in Week 17 and the New Orleans Saints lose, it will be the fourth division title in five years for Carolina.

On paper, it’s pretty obvious that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston outplayed Newton in this ball game. Winston had over 300 yards passing and a ridiculous quarterback rating of 131.1. The problem for him was ball security, as he lost three fumbles on the day. You can’t turn the ball over to the Panthers and expect to beat them in Charlotte.

While Winston has looked better in the last two weeks, Carolina is a Super Bowl contender and Tampa Bay is anything but that. Maybe the Buccaneers will be able to right the ship in 2018? That being said, Carolina has momentum on its side, which makes them the most fearsome team in the NFC playoffs.

Carolina is only of the few teams in the NFL that can win a ball game when its quarterback isn’t playing at an elite level. If the Panthers can pound the rock and keep the opposing offense in check, they will always have a shot at winning the ball game.

This NFC playoff picture is starting to come together as two NFC South teams have punched tickets in Carolina and New Orleans. The Los Angeles Rams were the fifth team to clinch in the NFC, as they won the NFC West for the first time since 2003 on Sunday.

Three Stars

  1. Julius Peppers: Peppers had three tackles, one solo, one quarterback sack, one for a loss of yardage, two quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries.
  2. Cam Newton: Newton completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. As a runner, Newton had 14 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown.
  3. Jameis Winston: Winston completed 21 of 27 passes for 367 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.


Next Game

The Buccaneers will host the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints in Week 17. Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will be at 1:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. FOX will have the early afternoon telecast.

The Panthers will travel to Atlanta to play the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons in Week 17. Kickoff from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be at 1:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. FOX will have the early afternoon telecast.

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