Panthers offense explodes against Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs the ball in the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium.Photo: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Sports Xchange

Cam Newton scored twice, Christian McCaffery scored twice and Carolina compiled more than 400 yards of offense in a 42-28 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Carolina (6-2) scored early and often as the Panthers opened up a 35-14 lead heading into intermission.

Running back Alex Amah opened the scoring with a 1-yard run to give Carolina the early 7-0 lead. Newton engineered an eight-play, 88-yard drive, which saw McCaffery score from three yards out and a 14-0 Panthers’ lead.

Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally got untracked and found tight end OJ Howard from four yards out to get Tampa Bay (3-5) on the board early in the second.

Fitzpatrick and Howard connected for another score in the closing seconds of the half to cut the Carolina lead to 35-14.

In between, the Panthers scored three touchdowns, highlighted by Curtis Samuel’s double-reverse. The former Ohio State receiver started left, then cut back to his right and sped around the corner for a 21-7 Carolina lead.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Samuel ran 104 yards on the 33-yard scoring run,

Despite the offensive explosion, which saw the Panthers score a season-high 42 points, a late touchdown pass from Newton to Samuel and the Panthers’ defense saved the day for Carolina.

The late heroics were necessary thanks to Fitzpatrick, who was starting after Jameis Winston was benched. Fitzpatrick hit Adam Humphries twice for scores, once in the third period and in the first minute of the fourth to pull the Buccaneers within seven at 35-28.

Newton had an answer, though, and drove the Panthers 75 yards in six plays, with Samuel finishing the drive from 19 yards out.

Donte Jackson sealed the win with his fourth interception of the season.