Brady beats Panthers for first win with Bucs
Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass and Leonard Fournette scored two touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the visiting Carolina Panthers 31-17 on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.
It was the home opener and the first victory for Brady, a six-time Super Bowl winner, in a uniform other than the New England Patriots.
Brady, a week after receiving criticism from coach Bruce Arians, completed 23 of 35 passes for 217 yards with an interception. Fournette’s 46-yard touchdown ramble with 1:48 to go put him at 103 rushing yards on 12 carries for the Buccaneers (1-1).
The Panthers (0-2) committed turnovers on their first two possessions under first-year coach Matt Rhule, whose team fell into a 21-0 hole.
Christian McCaffrey scored on second-half runs of 1 and 7 yards for Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater completed 33 of 42 passes for 367 yards with two interceptions.
Bridgewater’s interception and fumble marked the first two Carolina turnovers.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring on a 7-yard run by Ronald Jones II. Then Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 23-yard touchdown play on the first snap following Bridgewater’s lost fumble.
The Buccaneers scored their third touchdown following Carolina’s failed fake punt in the second quarter. Fournette capped a 65-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 3:01 left in the half.
McCaffrey put the Panthers on the board with his first touchdown run at the 8:36 mark of the third quarter.
Carolina then converted on fourth-and-2 from the Tampa Bay 7 when McCaffrey took a pitchout and ran to the end zone with 13:25 remaining. McCaffrey injured an ankle on the play and didn’t return.
The Buccaneers stretched their edge to 24-14 on Ryan Succop’s 33-yard field goal with 6:18 left. That came a play after LeSean McCoy dropped a would-be touchdown pass in the end zone.
Joey Slye’s 23-yard field goal with two minutes left cut the margin to 24-17, but the Panthers had only two timeouts left. Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski recovered Carolina’s onside kick before Fournette’s second touchdown run.
Tampa Bay played minus receiver Chris Godwin, who led the team in receiving yards in the opener but is in the concussion protocol. The Panthers were without veteran defensive tackle Kawann Short due to an ankle injury.
–Field Level Media