A great start for Greg Schiano’s NFL coaching career as he is now 1-0 with a division win. Tampa Bay did not play spectacular, but it was enough to get the victory. I thought this would be a high scoring affair that did not turn out to be the case. TB got a break before the game even started with Jonathan Stewart being announced as inactive. I figured with Carolina’s depth at RB this would not be a major concern. I was wrong, as the Panthers running game stuttered, and finished with just 10 yards. DeAngelo Williams who started at tailback had 6 carries for a loss of one. He couldn’t even get back to zero. It was bad. Carolina relied a lot on Cam Newton, but he had absolutely no help from his running backs.
Abandoning the run after their early struggles, Newton went to the air to try to score. He was able to throw for over 300 yards and one score, but also throw 2 bad interceptions. Give a lot of credit to the Bucs defense today as they disrupted the running game all day and slowed down the dynamic Cam Newton.
Josh Freeman started off early, hitting Mike Williams for a 6 yard score. He did not do much the rest of the day, but that ended up being enough. He had just 138 yards in the air, but the biggest change from last year is that he didn’t cough up the ball. Zero picks and zero fumbles for the entire team, and winning the turnover battle is always huge in winning the game. New Buc Vincent Jackson was the leading receiver, but managed just 4 catches for 47 yards. I expect some much bigger games in the future.
Rookie RB Doug Martin ended up with 24 carries, just short of 100 yards. He started slow, but finished strong. LeGarrette Blount had just three carries and left the game with a leg injury. He was already getting weeded out of this offense so this won’t help any for his case. His days in Tampa could be numbered if Martin continues to impress.
Tampa Bay heads to New York next week to take on the defending Super Bowl champs. Eli Manning and his Giants hosted the Cowboys on Wednesday but fell to their bitter rivals. They have an advantage of four extra days rest in between games, which could help or even hurt them, depending on how you look at it. They have a ton of injuries in their secondary, so any extra rest they will certainly welcome. It will be a tough matchup for sure, but the Bucs will look to become 2-0 if they can pull off another surprise victory.