Panthers' Testaverde hangs it up

Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Vinny Testaverde officially announced his retirement from the NFL after the Panthers' 31-23 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Testaverde played 21 NFL season, but his career started in Tampa Bay in 1987. Find out more about Sunday's game in our Bucsblitz.com game notebook.

TAMPA — As expected, Carolina backup quarterback Vinny Testaverde officially announced his retirement from the NFL after Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay.

Testaverde, who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected No. 1 overall in the 1987 NFL Draft, played six seasons for the Bucs until he departed after the 1992 season. He enjoyed stints with Cleveland, Baltimore, the New York Jets, Dallas, New England and Carolina during a 21-year career that saw Testaverde throw at least one touchdown pass each season, a NFL record.

The 44-year old also retires as the oldest quarterback to win a NFL game.

Testaverde, who was the inactive third quarterback on Sunday, took the final snap of the game, taking a knee at midfield of Raymond James Stadium.

"That was the least we could do for him," Panthers head coach John Fox said.

Testaverde thanks his family and friends in a press conference after the game and thought it was fitting that his final snap in the NFL took place in Tampa.

"I started here 21 years ago where I took my first snap in this city," Testaverde said. "Ironically enough, it's where I took my last snap. It means a lot and I've enjoyed just about every minute of it."

LUCAS MAKES HIS CASE: Chad Lucas was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster on Wednesday. On Sunday he started opposite Michael Clayton at wide receiver, making five catches for 82 yards, including a 52-yarder that led to the Bucs' first touchdown. That was his first NFL catch.

"That ball looked like it would never come down," Lucas said.

The first-year player from Alabama State has spent the season bouncing back and forth off the practice squad. He felt he made a good case to be included in the conversation at wide receiver in 2008.

"That's how this league works — you never know," Lucas said. "When your opportunity comes you have to take advantage of it."

RECORD BOOK: P Josh Bidwell became the franchise leader for most punts inside the 20 with 97 on Sunday. Also, the Buccaneer offense set a record for fewest interceptions in a season with 8.

DIVISIONAL TALK: Sunday's loss cost the Bucs their first undefeated season in divisional play in franchise history.

LONG WAY TO GO: Tampa Bay's 98-yard scoring drive in the third quarter was the longest scoring drive in team history.

The drive included two big plays — an 11-yard run by Michael Bennett and a 31-yard scramble by QB Luke McCown — before McCown hit Bennett on a 23-yard screen pass for a touchdown to briefly give Tampa Bay the lead.

"A lot has to go right for a drive like that," Bennett said.

STARTERS FOR A DAY: Tampa Bay inserted several bench players into the starting lineup on Sunday, including McCown, Lucas, Clayton, RB Michael Pittman, FB Byron Storer, LB Jeremiah Trotter and S Kalvin Pearson.

INJURIES: For Tampa Bay, LG Arron Sears left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. DT Greg Peterson left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. For Carolina, DE Charles Johnson left the game in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. LB Na'il Diggs left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

INACTIVES: Tampa Bay: QB Jeff Garcia (third quarterback), WR Ike Hilliard, S Jermaine Phillips, RB Earnest Graham, FB B.J. Askew, LB Barrett Ruud, G Dan Buenning and WR Joey Galloway. Carolina: QB Vinny Testaverde (third quarterback), WR Jason Carter, WR Travis Taylor, CB Patrick Dendy, S Chris Harris, LB James Anderson, T Frank Omiyale and DT Gary Gibson. Marquand Manuel started start in Harris' place.

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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.


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