The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2014 season got off to a rough start against the defending NFC South Champions. The team’s new-look offense failed to find a groove behind starting QB Josh McCown until it was too late, accounting for just 174 yards, and Panthers reserve QB Derek Anderson led the visitors to a 20-14 victory.
The Buccaneers ran for 102 yards, but that is a bit misleading as 54 of those yards came on one run by FB Jorvorskie Lane, two plays before McCown threw the first of his 2 interceptions. Starting RB Doug Martinfound little room to run, finishing with 9 yards on 9 carries. McCown threw two picks, both on broken plays when he tried to make something happen while under serious pressure. McCown hit WR Chris Owusu and RB Bobby Rainey on touchdown passes in the fourth quarter but the Bucs ran out of time on their comeback attempt.
Tampa Bay’s defense was relatively solid but couldn’t come up with the game-changing play. Tampa Bay lost the turnover battle, 3-0 and gave up 334 yards despite allowing very few big plays. Anderson’s 26-yard touchdown toss to rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin, the play that essentially sealed the Bucs’ fate, was Carolina’s longest play from scrimmage.
G Logan Mankins, acquired in a dramatic trade less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return. Garrett Gilkey, a waiver claim from the Cleveland Browns, played the rest of the game at left guard.
The Buccaneers were shut out for three quarters but got on the board with 7:23 left in the final period on McCown’s 19-yard touchdown pass to WR Chris Owusu. The play was reviewed but the tape showed that Owusu got both feet in-bounds after catching the hard pass.