Buccaneers 20

(3-1, 1-1 away)

Panthers 7

(2-2, 0-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:05 PM ET, September 30, 2007

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 14 3 0 320
CAR 0 0 0 77

Top Performers

Passing: J. Garcia (TB) - 176 YDS

Rushing: M. Pittman (TB) - 15 CAR, 90 YDS

Receiving: I. Hilliard (TB) - 7 REC, 114 YDS

Suffocating Buccaneers defense shuts down Carr, Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- As Carnell "Cadillac" Williams was being loaded onto a cart after injuring his right knee, every member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came onto the field to give him encouragement.

Then they used the same teamwork to make up for his absence, sending the surprising Bucs to the top of the NFC South.

Calling it the closest team he's been on since Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, Michael Pittman had 90 of the Buccaneers' 189 yards rushing in Tampa Bay's dominating 20-7 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Scouts Buzz
This game was won in the first half with Tampa Bay taking advantage of great field position thanks to its defense forcing Carolina to punt every time it had the ball. This swarming defense made life miserable for QB David Carr & Co., allowing only a late TD. The Bucs pressured Carr all day -- collecting three sacks and countless other hits -- and performed well in the secondary, shutting down explosive WR Steve Smith (five catches and just 32 yards). Armed with a short field, QB Jeff Garcia directed this offense with confidence and efficiency. Offensive coordinator Bill Muir used a good mix of run and pass, which allowed Garcia to move the chains easily. He showed poise in the pocket and great timing with his receiving corps.
-- Ken Moll, Scouts Inc.

Complete Week 4 Scouts Buzz

Jeff Garcia didn't throw an interception for the fourth straight game and ran for a touchdown, while the Bucs' suffocating defense shut down David Carr, Steve Smith and the Panthers to take the division lead a year after going 4-12.

The beating was so thorough, Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins accused his teammates of having "no heart," and the Bucs were talking about redemption.

"Nobody gave us a chance to do anything," Pittman said. "But right now we're proving a lot of people wrong."

Williams' injury tempered some of the enthusiasm for Tampa Bay (3-1). He and left tackle Luke Petitgout, who also left with a knee injury, will undergo tests Monday.

"To lose, potentially, these two men is not a good thing for us," coach Jon Gruden said. "But we will show a resolve, as we did today, and we will compete the season with authority. I can assure you that."

They did so Sunday with a reinvented defense that made life miserable for Carr and the Panthers (2-2). Starting in place of Jake Delhomme, who was nursing a strained right elbow, Carr completed just 19 of 41 passes for 155 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times and the Panthers only avoided their first shutout in five years when Carr's screen pass to DeAngelo Williams turned into a 24-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left.

"I'm going to be honest. I think the players owe the fans an apology," Jenkins said. "I would be as upset as they are if I had to sit in the stands for four quarters and look at that garbage. I'm going to be honest with you, it was what it was: garbage."

Despite being without starting cornerback Brian Kelly (groin), Ronde Barber and Phillip Buchanon combined to blanket Carolina's receivers. Carr spent much of the day either running away from pressure or throwing the ball away. The Panthers had only 236 yards.

Smith, held to five catches for 32 yards, grew more furious as the game wore on.

He was seen screaming on the phone to the coaching staff during the third quarter, then spent part of the fourth sitting on the bench with a towel over his head. Smith declined to speak to reporters after the game.

"I understand his frustration. I want to give him the ball, also," Carr said.

The Buccaneers already led 7-0 when Williams rumbled down the right sideline for an 18-yard gain. He was hit by safety Chris Harris, and Williams' leg bent awkwardly under him.

A couple of minutes later, the entire team came on the field to greet Williams before he was carted off.

Earnest Graham replaced him, and his 1-yard TD run made it 14-0.

The Panthers, meanwhile, were getting little done offensively. Carr completed only three of his first 11 passes, and the longest play of the first half was when Carr eluded linebacker Derrick Brooks by leaping into the air and doing a summersault on a 15-yard gain.

Carr, in his first start with Carolina after five years as Houston's starter, got up and made a first down signal. But the drive stalled.

Coach John Fox, who said last week Delhomme would not need surgery, said after the game it's now possible. He provided no timetable for his return.

But while the Panthers' QB situation is unsettled, the 37-year-old Garcia continued his mistake-free season. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 176 yards and got Tampa Bay on the board with a 3-yard scramble on the Bucs' first possession.

The Panthers, without middle linebacker Dan Morgan (ankle), put little pressure on Garcia. He wasn't sacked and the Panthers have only two sacks all season -- none by Julius Peppers.

"As a team collectively we have no heart," Jenkins said. "We have no energy. We have no drive."

Game notes

Former Panther Jovan Haye, Greg Peterson and Patrick Chukwurah had the sacks for the Buccaneers. ... Ike Hilliard had seven catches for 114 yards. ... Panthers KR Nick Goings suffered a concussion in the second half and did not return. ... Panthers rookie WR Dwayne Jarrett had one catch for six yards in his first action of the season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2213
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6767
Total Yards365236
Yards per play5.43.5
Total Drives1312
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-41-1
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders

Smith Sr.5326.4015

Scoring Summary

tbTD8:50Jeff Garcia, 3 yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 71 yds, 6:17
tbTD0:53Earnest Graham, 1 yd run (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 48 yds, 2:25
tbFG6:44Matt Bryant 25 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 61 yds, 2:30
tbFG10:24Matt Bryant 38 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 8 yds, 1:29
carTD0:31DeAngelo Williams, 24 yd pass from David Carr (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 60 yds, 2:32