Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia (15 completions of 20 attempts, one touchdown) had a productive day today, and Jon Gruden should realize the mistake he's made by starting Brian Griese lately.
Tampa Bay's defense looked absolutely wonderful, allowing the Panthers only three points for the entire game—deflecting a Jason Baker punt in the Panthers first punt of the day for a touchdown.
The Panthers were limited to 40 yards rushing, but they did lead the Bucs with 243 passing yards.
Steve Smith (six receptions for 112 yards), who was double-covered for most of the game, had a major case of the dropsies Sunday, costing Carolina at least two potential touchdowns.
Jake Delhomme (20 completions of 39 attempts, three interceptions) had a decent game. His numbers were actually very good, but not too good when you factor in the three costly interceptions he threw. The good news, however, is that Delhomme at least didn't commit any fumbles.
It was a very slow day for the running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who combined for a meager 39 yards rushing—Williams for 27 yards and Stewart for 12.
The only score came on a John Kasay, 20-yard field goal with 12:31 left in the first half.
On the plus side, even though there were a few penalties committed by the offensive line, they did do a nice job protecting Delhomme from being sacked, and they didn't allow the Bucs' defense to create any forced fumbles.
This week is another lesson for the Panthers—the special teams need to protect Jason Baker; once his punt was blocked, and at least one other time he was pressured very heavily, but managed to get the punt off.
The offense—more specifically, the passing game—needs to work on not having so many dropped passes. A lot of those passes (at least two) intended for Steve Smith were in his possession, but they always seemed to pop out of his grip or were just dropped.
The defense made pathetic efforts, for the most part. They were not able to put any kind of pressure on Garcia or the Bucs' offensive line; and where was Peppers? I never heard his name mentioned in any kind of defensive effort, nor did he commit any penalties!
I'm glad he didn't commit any penalties, but it makes me wonder if he was in attendance for today's game in Tampa. Also, the Panthers' secondary made me sick. They couldn't intercept a momentum-changing pass today, or even deflect a pass.
I am very disappointed—as is the rest of Panthers Nation—by the lackluster performance put on the field by this team.
If this was a team with a 2-3 record or worse, I wouldn't be nearly as upset by the lack of a fight it put up.
Carolina is a better team than it has been, and there's no reason whatsoever that they shouldn't have put up more than three points in today's game.
Next week Carolina has the New Orleans Saints coming to Charlotte for the Panthers' third divisional game of the season.
I hope Carolina can wake up from the funk that made them play as horribly as they did Sunday. It's still early enough in the season that a record of 4-2 isn't bad by any means, but they can't afford to let too many more opportunities slip through their fingers.