The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into the 2012 season opener with a chip on their shoulder after an unexpected loss in 2011 to Carolina. The Panthers were coming off a strong performance against the Giants and started this game looking like they might pick up right where they left off. QB Cam Newton found Steve Smith for two touchdowns and Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 half-time lead. The Bucs showed a lot of heart in the second half, with two TD’s from rookie RB Doug Martin and another from QB Josh Freeman. In the end Carolina had just too much firepower and came away with a 27-21 win.

A lot can change after one week but here are some things that stood out to me:

Panthers Offense: The Panthers offense featured a more traditional line up with FB Mike Tolbert starting at RB, but the most notable change is the addition of rookie WR Joe Adams . He showed some great elusiveness on his 20 yard catch and run to put Carolina in scoring position. The real show stopper was Steve Smith who had some big-time catches on third down that kept drives alive. RB DeAngelo Williams looked like he never left the field, but unfortunately averaged under three yards per carry.

The Buccaneer offense was led by QB Josh Freeman who withstood Carolina’s strong pass rush for most of the game. He showed good patience in the pocket and read the Panther’s seconday well. Doug Martin and running back LeGarrette Blount both showed great burst in their TD runs. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson was a non-factor in the game, but that could change as he continues to gel with his quarterback and offensive line.

The Panthers’ defense looked strong

The Panthers’ defense looked strong, holding the Buccaneers to only three points in the second half. DT Dwan Edwards starred up front and had an early sack of Freeman to set the tone for Carolina’s defense. Charles Johnson looked like his old self with three sacks and a forced fumble that led to a Panthers’ TD.

The Buccaneers defense was porous at best in the first half, allowing Carolina to score quickly and often. That changed in the second half, with some help from their offense that committed three penalties on key plays. The Buccaners’ defense forced some hurries and some tackles for losses but gave up two early touchdowns to Steve Smith (who else?). Rookie Lavonte David was everywhere tonight with 10 solo tackles, one sack and an interception.

Cam Newton played very well

Cam Newton played very well, completing over 70% of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns and one interception. He ran the ball ten times for 52 yards and showed good patience in the pocket with only one sack given up. Cam’s highlight of the night may have been his third down scamper on a broken play that put Carolina inside the redzone.

how many super bowl wins do the carolina panthers have

The Carolina Panthers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) South division. They play their home games at Bank of America Stadium, also located in Charlotte. The team began play in 1995 as an expansion team, and currently has no Super Bowl appearances to its credit; however, they have been to two NFC Championship Games and lost in each of them (in 2005 and in 2016). The only Vince Lombardi Trophy the Panthers own is from 1996 when they were in the Arena Football League.

The Panthers organization does not consider these American Football League (AFL) championships as “official” NFL titles for purposes of their records and legacy.

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