EditorsNote: adds Rivera quote in 12th graf
Newton, Panthers keep Buccaneers winless
TAMPA, Fla. — “Fire Schiano” billboards started popping up around town this week, and that was before coach Greg Schiano’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers stumbled badly in a prime-time game Thursday.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers crushed the Buccaneers 31-13, dropping Tampa Bay to 0-7, tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the worst record in the NFL.
Through the air, Newton was nearly flawless, going 23-for-32 for 221 yards without being intercepted. He threw two touchdown passes and ran another score, going untouched on a 6-yard dash to his left late in the third quarter.
“It’s great when we’re all getting the ball,” Carolina wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said. “I just enjoy everything and go with the flow. We’re a team.”
On the ground, Carolina was efficient, rushing for 129 yards on 27 carries. Newton ran for a team-high 50 yards on 11 carries against the leaky Tampa Bay defense.
“He’s one of the greatest escape artists I’ve ever seen,” Buccaneers defensive tackle Akeem Spence said of Newton. “At times, we had guys all over him, and he just found a way to get to the edge and make a play. If they needed 5 or 6 yards, he could make it happen. It’s tough.”
The Panthers (4-3) led 14-6 at halftime but piled it on the second half.
With the Buccaneers’ offense missing injured running back Doug Martin, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon couldn’t get the team into the end zone until the game was out of hand late in the fourth quarter. Glennon finished 30-for-51 for 275 yards and a touchdown.
“We got licked,” Schiano said. “My hat’s off to Carolina. They played better than we did. They coached better than we did. That was the result today.”
Newton completed seven of eight passes for 57 yards in the first quarter as Carolina found the end zone at the end of a nearly nine-minute opening drive. After being forced out of the pocket, Newton threw across the field to tight end Greg Olsen for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Newton also ran for 23 yards in the quarter, including a 16-yard, third-down scramble to extend a drive deep into Buccaneers territory.
“He did a great job of protecting the football, doing things that he needed to, making good decisions,” coach Ron Rivera said. “The guys around him are making plays. Unfortunately ... we had a few drops, and that’s disappointing. Our guys did a great job of putting themselves in position, now we just got to finish those plays.”
The Panthers converted their first five third downs, extending drives and eating up the clock.
“We’re pretty good on third down,” Olsen said. “I think the key to that is because we give ourselves third-and-manageables. We’re really good on first and second downs. We don’t take a lot of sacks. Cam does a good job of extending plays.”
The Buccaneers’ first possession was a quick three-and-out, but Glennon then settled into a rhythm, going 11-for-16 for 124 yards in the first half.
After falling behind 7-0, Tampa Bay responded with an impressive drive, highlighted by a 29-yard grab on the sideline by Vincent Jackson. However, the Buccaneers stalled because of incompletions on second and third down at the Panthers 29-yard line. Rian Lindell kicked a 47-yard field goal to get the Buccaneers on the board.
Early in the second quarter, Newton hit speedy receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on a shallow crossing route, and Ginn reached the sideline for a 35-yard pickup. On the next play, DeAngelo Williams ran 12 yards off the left tackle for a touchdown.
Lindell cut Tampa Bay’s halftime deficit to 14-6 with a 48-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
Newton’s touchdown run provided the first points of the second half, and Carolina pushed the advantage to 28-6 on Newton’s 3-yard pass to fullback Mike Tolbert on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Graham Gano kicked a 29-yard field goal to put Carolina in front 31-6.
Glennon capped an 11-play, 81-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring pass to Tim Wright to round out the scoring.
NOTES: Tampa Bay was without Martin (shoulder) and S Dashon Goldson (knee) after they sustained injuries in Atlanta on Sunday. Mike James, from the University of Miami, served as the Buccaneers’ primary ball-carrier, and he gained 39 yards on 10 carries. Keith Tandy made his first career start in place of Goldson. ... WR Tavarres King was inactive after being claimed off waivers by Carolina this week. ... Offensive coordinator Mike Shula called for passing plays on nine of the Panthers’ first 10 snaps. ... Buccaneers CB Johnthan Banks went to the locker room with a second-quarter hip injury, but he returned after halftime. ... RB Bobby Rainey, picked up by the Buccaneers this week, played but didn’t record any stats.