Tampa Bay came into this meeting 3-0 – but quickly reverted to their
They actually made it a game early, going into scoring position to
score their 9th or 13th points after two solid FG drives early in the
first quarter – not a small task against a Carolina team that had given
up under 20 points in the quarter all year (total). That's when it all
started to go Carolina's way. Rookie Mike Glennon, facing third down,
rolled to his left under heavy pressure, wound up to throw, and
immediately fumbled. They'd never get near a score again.
Carolina, on the other hand, kept rolling. Cam Newton had a couple of
miscues, including a pair of INT on bad balls, but also led the team in
productivity. A sweet 56 yard run could've gone yard – so Newton made
up the difference on a TD to Brandon LaFell. He later chipped in a
Marcus Allen-style over the top TD rushing, and finished with a
double-move invasion of Revis Island by Ted Ginn for a score from 36
yards out. The surge allowed Carolina to lay the 21 point victory on
Tampa, which was Tampa's worst margin of defeat all season.
Along with the fumble recovery, the defense chipped in an INT on a
bizarre play reminiscent of the Pats' game-ender, but potentially a more
apt version of it. Drayton Florence held Vincent Jackson on a ball that
was well underthrown, and the flag was picked up. Unlike the
Gronkowski play, Jackson did have a shot at getting to the ball but it
would've been a longshot; it would've been more likely to cause a
breakup. But, at that point I would almost wonder if Florence didn't
have as much right to the space as Jackson. It's an odd rule, but
Carolina is playing it well if that's their intent.
The defense also picked up a number of sacks, including Greg Hardy
picking up his seventh and Wes Horton picking up his first two in
relief; they scored a total of five. Carolina also followed suit by
holding Tampa Bay sackless (though, with some pressure that flushed
Newton, and helped cause one of the two INT).
Hardy, late to a meeting earlier in the week, didn't start the game and
missed the first two snaps – but then didn't come out of the game at all
at Charles Johnson's usual left end spot. In an odd move, the team
started Nate Chandler at RT and Geoff Hangartner at RG, while going to
the more traditional Chandler at G/Byron Bell at RT lineup afterward.
There doesn't seem to be much of any reason for it, and honestly I
didn't see the move personally. Apparently this happened last week,
Carolina has forced a turnover in 16 straight games, the longest
current streak in the league. They're 13-3 in the last sixteen games.