Bucs Invite Panthers to Block Party

Perhaps looking ahead to a week three meeting in Atlanta, the Bucs got a wake-up call Sunday, learning they're not invincible as they lost in overtime 12-9 to the Carolina Panthers in a game riddled with penalties - 33 between the two teams for a combined 288 yards.

Panther running back Stephen Davis set the tone early running for 50 yards on five carries in the Panthers opening drive which led to a 28-yard John Kasay field goal to give Carolina an early lead.

In the second quarter, Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica's 38-yard field goal attempt to tie the game was blocked by Kris Jenkins.

The Bucs defense held the Panthers to a three-and-out, but punter Todd Sauerbrun answered with a 55-yard punt to pin the Bucs back at their own three-yard line.

Despite two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called against Warren Sapp (lined up in the tight end position), Quarterback Brad Johnson led the Bucs into Panther territory, only to have his pass to tight end Ken Dilger intercepted by defensive end Al Wallace, who returned the pick 53-yards inside the Bucs 10-yard line to set up another Kasay field goal and give the Panthers a 6-0 halftime lead.

"The dude [Carolina defender] grabbed [Mike] Alstott by the facemask and was lifting Mike up by the neck. I said, 'Ref, he's yanking him by the facemask.' He looks at me and say, 'Back up.' I say, 'What did I do?' And he throws the flag. I've said a lot worse than that."

The Panthers opened the second half with a drive aided by two roughing the passer penalties called against the Bucs. With first and goal at the Bucs nine, the Panthers were unable to score a touchdown against the Bucs goal line stand led by linebacker Ryan Nece. The Panthers had to settle for another Kasay field goal and a 9-0 lead.

Martin Gramatica got the Bucs on the scoreboard late in the third quarter with a 41 yard field goal.

The first play of the fourth quarter, Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice intercepted a Jake Delhomme pass to get the 65,621 at Raymond James Stadium back into the game.

After three-and-outs by the Bucs and the Panthers, the Bucs lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt, only to have defensive end Julius Peppers give the Panthers their second blocked field goal of the game.

The Bucs defense held the Panthers and gave the Bucs new life with under two minutes remaining. Brad Johnson put together an outstanding drive, leading the Bucs 82 yards in eleven plays. With five seconds left on the clock, Johnson hit wide receiver Keenan McCardell in the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Bucs fans held their breaths as the play was reviewed, but it was determined that the call on the field was correct, and the Bucs had tied the game with a chance to win.

With no time on the clock, Martin Gramatica lined up for the game winning extra point. The Bucs line fell apart as there was more blue in the Bucs backfield than pewter and Kris Jenkins got his second block of the game to send the game into overtime.

"I went in and blocked it. I don't think it was rocket science or anything," said Jenkins. "It was now or never. We didn't have a choice. Somebody had to get it."

The Panthers won the coin-toss, and after trading punts with the Bucs, Carolina took over on the Bucs 40-yard line after a 52-yard punt return by Steve Smith. With fourth and nine at the Bucs 29, John Kasay lined up for his fourth field goal of the game and nailed the 47 yarder for the game winner, to hand the Bucs their second consecutive home-opening loss.

"Last year, we were 1-1 at this point and went to the Super Bowl," Keyshawn Johnson said. "There's no panic setting in for us. We just have to evaluate where we are at and what we did that was wrong out there and try to make the corrections."

WR Joe Jurevicius left the game in the third quarter with a right knee sprain and may be out for four weeks.

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