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Looks like Bucs fans will have another NFC South quarterback to fear for a long time. Imagine being a team that has to face Matt Ryan and Drew Brees a total of four times every season. Everyone would cringe at the thought. Now throw in the beastly physical specimen that is Cam Newton. The result is a divisional schedule that just became a living nightmare.
Newton and the Panthers put on an absolute clinic in Tampa on Sunday with a 38-19 victory. This would have been a great matchup of two young, athletic quarterbacks going at it, however Josh Freeman was unable to start for the Bucs. He injured his throwing shoulder on the final play of last week’s loss at Tennessee.
Making his fifth career start and taking his place was quarterback Josh Johnson. Johnson had an overall decent day against the Carolina defense. The third year quarterback from San Diego went 16-27, throwing one touchdown on 229 yards passing. He also added 45 yards on the ground. His only glaring mistake came on the first drive of the third quarter.
He was not prepared for the shotgun snap, causing a rushed throw and interception. The day belonged to Cam Newton, however. The number one overall pick in this year’s draft had four total touchdowns. Three of the scores came with his feet, and the final one made history. With a two yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Newton set the all-time record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 13.
He passed former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan in just the 12th game of his career. Newton was proud of the accomplishment, but would not take all of the praise for himself.“It does mean something to me. I’m not going to sit up here and say it doesn’t mean something. I’m not focusing on individualism in this game.
It’s still 11-on-11. I don’t think I could’ve done anything without those other 10 guys, most importantly the five guys who are blocking their tails off each and every snap.” His first touchdown came on the game’s opening drive, which went 83 yards on seven plays. He concluded it with a high leap across the goal line on 2nd and goal from the one.
Carolina took a 14-0 lead after Jonathan Stewart had his own one yard touchdown run, which was set up on a 27 yard catch and run by Newton on a double pass. Stewart led the team in rushing with 80 yards on 14 carries. LeGarrette Blount, in contrast, had a miserable day with just 19 yards on 11 attempts for the Bucs.
While the Panthers were getting into the end zone, the Bucs were continuously settling for field goals until it was too late. It was a one possession game after the lead was cut to 14-6, but Newton quickly changed that. He went on to lead an 80 yard drive that concluded with a laser 19 yard touchdown pass to receiver Legedu Naanee.
The drive was Carolina’s 17th of the season that went at least 80 yards and resulted in a touchdown – the most in the NFL. The Bucs added two more field goals to the Panthers’ one to make the score at halftime 24-12. Newton continued to dominate and added his final two rushing touchdowns in the second half. Meanwhile, Johnson and the Bucs were unable to score anything other than a late touchdown by Dezmon Briscoe.
On a day where Cam Newton did a lot of scoring with his legs, his arm also accounted for 204 yards on 12-21 passing. He continues to develop as a serious matchup problem for opponents on a weekly basis. While the future seems bright in Carolina, things just continue to fall apart for Tampa Bay after a promising 4-2 start. The Bucs suffered their sixth straight loss after falling to the Panthers, and coach Raheem Morris did not hide his frustration following the game.
“I can take getting beat by a better football team. I wish they were. The foolish things that happened in that game, as far as penalties, some of the things that we caused, are just unacceptable. We are not playing like a smart football team right now.” With no realistic shot at the playoffs, the Bucs are left with nothing to play for now except pride and respect.
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