Buccaneers clinch NFC South in comeback win over Panthers
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2023]
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes to Mike Evans and
orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
clinched the NFC South by beating the visiting Carolina Panthers
30-24 on Sunday afternoon.
Brady, who also scored the clinching touchdown on a 1-yard sneak,
was 34-for-45 for 432 passing yards as Tampa Bay (8-8) secured a
home playoff game. Evans gained 207 yards on 10 receptions, reaching
the 1,000-yard mark for the ninth consecutive season.
The Panthers (6-10) held leads of 14-0 and 21-10, but their
late-season surge under interim coach Steve Wilks hit a
fourth-quarter rough patch. If they had beaten Tampa Bay and won
next week at New Orleans, they would have made the playoffs.
Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold completed 23 of 37 passes for 341
yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
With Carolina up 14-10, the Buccaneers drove 90 yards only to stall
despite one fourth-down conversion along the way. Ryan Succop's
26-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Yetur Gross-Matos.
The Panthers snatched momentum by going 91 yards in seven plays.
Darnold threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Shi Smith.
The Buccaneers needed just 61 seconds to score on Brady's 57-yard
touchdown pass to Evans. A two-point conversion play failed, leaving
the score 21-16 with 13:49 remaining.
On its next possession, Tampa Bay went 92 yards in eight plays.
Brady threw 30 yards to Evans for the touchdown, giving the
Buccaneers their first lead of the day with 6:47 to play. Brady's
two-point conversion toss to Chris Godwin extended the margin.
[to top of second column]
The Panthers punted on their ensuing possession, but Tampa Bay
picked up only one first down before punting it back. Carolina took
over at its own 13 with 2:32 left, but Darnold was sacked and lost a
fumble on the next play. Two plays later, Brady was in the end zone.
Carolina added a field goal at the 59-second mark and had all three
timeouts remaining. The Panthers got the ball back at their own 8
with 32 seconds left, but they couldn't make anything happen on a
lateral play as the clock hit zeroes.
The Panthers scored on the game's opening possession when Darnold
connected with Tommy Tremble for a 17-yard touchdown play.
It was 14-0 after Darnold hit D.J. Moore for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Buccaneers got busy late
in the first half, scoring when Brady and Evans hooked up for a
63-yard touchdown play with 2:10 to go before halftime. Then Tampa
Bay turned a Darnold fumble into more points, settling for Succop's
22-yard field goal.
--Field Level Media
[© 2023 Thomson Reuters. All rights
This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.