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Series History: Bucs-Panthers

Posted Sep 3, 2014

After five seasons of alternating sweeps, the Bucs would like to keep their even-year dominance going and start off the season with a win over Carolina, just as they did to open the 2012 campaign


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Bucs and Panthers have spent the last five seasons alternating season sweeps...is it the Bucs' turn again?
  • Tampa Bay will play host to Carolina in the season opener for the second time in the last three years
  • Carolina hopes to start its division title defense better than the previous three champs did
If a trend the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers have been working on for a half-decade continues, the result of this Sunday's season opener could also have a big impact on the stretch run in the NFC South.

In each of the last five years, one team in this head-to-head matchup has swept the two-game season series.  The good news for Buccaneer fans is that the even years have belonged to Tampa Bay.

Carolina started this unusual run by taking both meetings in 2009, though each game was a relatively close affair.  In 2010, the Buccaneers gained a measure of revenge by taking both contests, each by two-touchdown margins.  In 2011, Cam Newton's rookie season, the Panthers were in total control, winning a pair of games against the Bucs by a combined score of 86-35.  And, yes, sweeps by the Bucs in 2012 and the Panthers in 2013 followed.

Tampa Bay and Carolina are due to meet again in Week 15 of the regular season, a December 14 gathering in Charlotte.  Whichever team wins this Sunday's game will go into that one with a chance to keep the sweeps streak alive, and very possibly strike an important blow in the battle for the division crown.

The Panthers bring last year's crown into Sunday's season opener, but that is certainly no assurance of victory in the topsy-turvy NFC South.  In fact, the Buccaneers could extend another interesting trend if they claim a victory on Sunday: The defending champ in the NFC South has lost its opening game in each of the last three seasons.  The 2010 winners, Atlanta, lost to Chicago in Week One in 2011; 2011 champs New Orleans lost to Washington in Week One in 2012; and the 2012 title-holders Atlanta lost to New Orleans to open last year.

This is also the second time in the last three years that Carolina has begun its season with a trip to Tampa.  The same matchup in 2012 resulted in a 16-10 Bucs victory on September 9.  That outcome contributed to a 1-6 start for the Panthers while the Bucs used it to launch a 6-4 start, but both teams ended up at 7-9 when it was all said and done.

Gerald McCoy and the Buccaneers will renew an intense rivalry with Cam Newton and the Panthers on opening day

Neither win came easily for the Buccaneers in 2012, and this year's opening day looks like it could similarly by controlled by the defenses.  The Bucs needed a historically good run defense to pull out a 16-10 win at home in the opener, holding Carolina to just 10 rushing yards on the game to tie a team record.  The Bucs were particularly hard on Newton, who had put up enormous numbers against Tampa Bay's defense during his eye-opening rookie campaign in 2011.  Newton threw for 303 yards but was intercepted twice, sacked three times and allowed only four rushing yards on five carries.  In the rematch in Charlotte, Newton led the Panthers to a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead but the Buccaneers mustered one of their most dramatic comebacks in years to win, 27-21, in overtime.  WR Vincent Jackson sent the game into an extra period with his last-minute touchdown catch and the subsequent two-point conversion.

As for those 2011 numbers for Newton, however, they were quite a bit different.  In two wins over the Buccaneers, the dual-threat rookie accounted for four passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns and was not intercepted once.

Carolina leads the overall series, 16-11, with only three of those matchups coming before the creation of the NFC South.  The Bucs were on the Panthers' schedule in their inaugural 1995 season, a game that was actually played at Clemson, and they came away with a 20-13 win despite a strong showing by the expansion team, which put up 393 yards of offense. Tampa Bay's defense swung the decision in the visitors' favor with four takeaways and backup QB Casey Weldon won the game with a one-yard touchdown plunge.

Some of the most dramatic outcomes in the head-to-head Bucs-Panthers series have come from tight, low-scoring affairs.  In 2002, during the Buccaneers' run to Super Bowl XXXVII, a Tampa Bay team playing without starting QB Brad Johnson found itself trailing, 9-3, in the fourth quarter.  K Martin Gramatica finished off a four-for-four performance with three long field goals in the final period, the last one a 47-yard game-winner that backed up a defense that only allowed 130 total yards.

The very next season saw a Bucs-Panthers game end in a 12-9 final, but in a far less happy way for the Buccaneers.  Coming off a dominant 17-0 win in Philadelphia in the 2003 season opener, the defending NFL champs stumbled in their home opener against Carolina, in part due to a single play that led to injuries to both Mike Alstott and Joe Jurevicius.  Trailing 9-3, the Bucs' offense woke up just in time, with Brad Johnson driving the team 82 yards in the last two minutes to set up a six-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell as time expired.  An extra point would have won it, but Carolina DT Kris Jenkins blocked the attempt, sending the game to overtime and giving the Panthers a chance to eventually win it on John Kasay's field goal.

Bucs' Game-by-Game Record vs. Panthers:

Year

Result

Site

1995

W, 20-13

Clemson

1996

L, 24-0

Charlotte

1998

W, 16-13

Tampa

2002

W, 12-9

Charlotte

2002

W, 23-10

Tampa

2003

L, 12-9

Tampa

2003

L, 27-24

Charlotte

2004

L, 21-14

Charlotte

2004

L, 37-20

Tampa

2005

L, 34-14

Tampa

2005

W, 20-10

Charlotte

2006

L, 26-24

Tampa

2006

L, 24-10

Charlotte

2007

W, 20-7

Charlotte

2007

L, 31-23

Tampa

2008

W, 27-3

Tampa

2008

L, 38-23

Charlotte

2009

L, 28-21

Tampa

2009

L, 16-6

Charlotte

2010

W, 20-7

Charlotte

2010

W, 31-16

Tampa

2011

L, 38-19

Tampa

2011

L, 48-16

Charlotte

2012

W, 16-10

Tampa

2012

W, 27-21

Charlotte

2013

L, 31-13

Tampa

2013

L, 27-6

Charlotte


Series Notes:
  • Overall Season Series: Carolina leads, 16-11
  • Bucs' Home Record: 5-8
  • Bucs' Road Record: 6-8
  • Current Streak: Lose 2 (2013)
  • Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 3 (1998-2002)
  • Panthers' Longest Winning Streak: 5 (2003-05)
  • Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 474, Panthers 581
  • Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 31-16 (2010)
  • Most Points in a Game, Panthers: Panthers 48-16 (2011)
  • Most Points, both teams: Panthers 48-16 (2011)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Panthers 24-0 (1996)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Panthers: Buccaneers 27-3 (2008)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: Panthers 12-9 (2003)
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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