The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday 27-21 in overtime at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte, and continued their impressive run forward in the 2012 season.
Here are five things we learned from the game on Sunday:
1. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can score points. They can score a lot of points. They can score these points often, and seemingly at will. Whether quarterback Josh Freeman is firing touchdowns to his receivers, or running back Doug Martin is blasting through defenses for scores, the Bucs offense now has to be considered a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. Tampa Bay is no fluke, these Bucs can play and put pressure on the opposing defenses with the run and the pass; which makes for a great combination to lead a playoff push in the NFC South.
2. Carolina Panthers football as it is comprised now is just not very good frankly. There are flashes here and there from the Panthers; but overall the performance leaves something to be desired from by Carolina fans. At the beginning of the season there was talk of the Panthers making a Super Bowl run following last season's strong finish and promise of better things to come. The way it looks now, Carolina fans can cancel any hope of making the playoffs, let alone a trip to Super Bowl Sunday. The Panthers have too many holes; and right now confidence seems to be the biggest hole in their game.
3. Josh Freeman is looking like the quarterback he was two seasons ago, and less like the quarterback he was last season. Freeman was 25-46 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Though he did toss two interceptions as well, Freeman still showed poise, confidence, and leadership in the pocket against a solid front seven unit of the Carolina Panthers.
4. Cam Newton, where are you? No team wins or loses with just one player, and no team can blame just one player for its lackluster play; but Carolina is in desperate need of the infectious attitude and swagger Newton displayed last season. Newton's body language has been poor for most of the season, and his leadership has come in to question also as both he and Panthers have struggled for much of the 2012 season.
5.Tamp Bay might be headed to the playoffs this year. In winning their fifth game out of six, the Bucs have put their name firmly in the playoff picture in the NFC. Sure the Saints seem to be back, and the Falcons are still leading the NFC South; but as it stands now the Bucs may be the one team in the division that no one wants to play because of their balanced offense and opportunistic defense.