The calls for Greg Schiano's job will only get louder after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell 31-13 to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night. Mike Glennon had his moments in the first half, but was shut down in the final two quarters by the Panthers' defense, and had little help from a receiving corps that struggled to hang onto the ball. The Bucs' defense, meanwhile, had few answers for Cam Newton, either through the air or on the ground.
Overall, it was exactly the sort of listless performance Schiano didn't need if he hopes to remain in Tampa Bay next season, or even for the few weeks.
The Panthers' offense put together two impressive drives to start the game, racking up 150 yards on its first two possessions to take an early 14-3 lead. They punted three times to close the half, however, allowing the Buccaneers to stay within shouting distance, 14-6, at halftime. The Bucs had a pair of drives stall inside the Panthers' 30-yard line, giving the sparse home crowd in attendance some hope that the team could mount a second-half comeback. Alas, Newton and the Panthers' front seven proved too strong.
The Bucs managed just 42 total yards of offense on their first four possessions of the second half. Glennon began to misfire on passes downfield, allowing the Panthers to choke up and smother Tampa Bay's attempts to ignite the running game or complete screens.
The Panthers' offense promptly regained the rhythm it had early in the game. Newton rushed for 33 of 53 yards on a scoring drive in the third quarter. He capped the drive with a 6-yard run into the end zone after he couldn't find an open teammate. The Panthers were forced to punt on their next possession, but Eric Page muffed the kick and the Panthers recovered on their own 30-yard line. Newton found Mike Tolbert on a 3-yard swing pass to open the fourth quarter and give the Panthers a 28-6 lead.
After the score, a crowd that had been rather polite throughout the night finally opened up and began booing.
The Buccaneers were at least able to finish the game on a positive note. The offense looked relatively in sync with an 11-play, 81-yard drive that was capped by a 10-yard pass to Tim Wright. They subsequently recovered an onside kick, and drove down to the Panthers' 10-yard line (with the help of Panthers penalties) before turning the ball over on downs.
Glennon finished the game 30-for-51 passing for 275 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, though several of his errant second-half passes came close to being picked off. Fellow rookie Mike James also had a second-half slide after running ball well early in the game in place of the injured Doug Martin. He began the game with seven carries for 32 yards, but picked up just 7 yards on three more carries the rest of the way.
Fantasy studs and duds
Newton accounted for three touchdowns, going 23-for-32 passing for 221 yards and racking up 50 yards on the ground.
Those hoping that James would blossom into an RB1 in place of Martin on Thursday were sorely disappointed. James started the game well, but finished with just 39 yards rushing on 10 carries. Three receptions for 20 yards were a nice little bonus in PPR leagues, however.
Neither team suffered significant injuries. Cornerback Johnthan Banks was briefly shaken up for the Bucs, but he was able to return to the field after halftime. Steve Smith went to the sideline in the third quarter, but didn't sit long before returning to the Panthers' receiving corps.
Did they cover?
The Panthers were favored by 6.5 points heading into kickoff, according to OddsShark.com. They were able to cover easily.
Carolina vs. Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay at Seattle, Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:05 p.m. ET