The most important play in Sunday's contest, a 56-yard run by Newton that set up the game's first touchdown, was a mixture of both problems. The Buccaneers' defense had Newton facing a second-and-11 and a collapsing pocket, with no one open downfield, when suddenly the Panther QB shot around left end and into open field. It was a bad moment for the Bucs that got significantly worse when Newton evaded a gang of tacklers near midfield and surprisingly broke into the clear. Only a hustling play by safety
Relative to their first go at Newton in October, when Head Coach Greg Schiano estimated the Bucs lost containment on Newton five times, the Bucs did a better job of keeping him in the pocket in Week 13. Other than the run described above, Newton had just 12 yards on four other carries and did almost all of his damage in the passing game from between the tackles. Had Tampa Bay's defense combined that with better tackling, they might be looking back at Newton's first run as a small blip in an otherwise strong performance, rather than a game-changing play. Rookie defensive tackle
"We didn't get him to the ground after 17 yards and he got another 40," said Spence. "We just made a lot of mistakes. Some guys up front just tried to do too much, and we just didn't tackle like we've been doing the last couple weeks. We weren't getting guys to the ground like we had been the last couple weeks.
“I was surprised; I didn’t see that coming," said Schiano of the tackling problems. "I thought we’ve tackled very well for the majority of this season. I think it was the highest missed tackle total that we’ve had. We've got to really get back to basics in that because that’s what tackling is, it’s fundamentals and it’s want-to and our guys play incredibly hard. It’s just one of those days.”
Indeed, effort hasn't been a problem for the Buccaneers all season, even when the losses were adding onto each other during the first half of the campaign. However, defensive end
"After watching the film, we know why we lost," said Clayborn. "We weren't playing with that much passion on every play, we weren't gang-tackling and we weren't doing the stuff we've been doing the past few weeks to win games. We started off good, but I guess stuff happens within a game and guys get frustrated. We've just got to learn how to play through that stuff."