Familiar flaws resurface for Bucs
Five weeks after being embarrassed by the Panthers on national television, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t look like the same team that turned their season around in November.
With the calendar flipped to a new month, the Bucs were victimized by many of the same flaws evident during an 0-8 start. They were whipped up front on both sides of the ball and an overmatched offense mirrored the unit that averaged 11 points per game in September.
“Yes, they were on a roll,’’ said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, referring to Tampa Bay’s three-game winning streak that followed a dynamic losing effort at Seattle. “They had a little bit of swagger and a lot of confidence. I wanted to make sure we understood that.’’
Following up on their 31-13 triumph at Raymond James Stadium, the Panthers on Sunday more than doubled Tampa Bay’s production in total yardage (426-206) and doubled the Bucs in first downs (20-10).
“It was tough to get in any kind of a rhythm,’’ Bucs guard Davin Joseph said. “We’ve got to go back to work and do a better job on third down and in the red zone. I felt like we weren’t ourselves today. We have four tough games coming up and we have to get ready.’’
While the Bucs were quick to credit the Panthers for extending their winning streak to a franchise-record eight games, there was a sense in the Tampa Bay locker room that the visitors took a major step backward at Bank of America Stadium. “They beat us,’’ Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “Physically, mentally, every facet of the game, they just dominated us. They game-planned us very well.’’
For linebacker Lavonte David, there were no excuses as the Bucs ensured themselves of a losing season for the fourth time in the past five years.
“They executed their offense and got the best of us today,’’ David said. “No tricks, just good football.’’