PASSING OFFENSE: C -- QB Jimmy Clausen did a better job of managing the game and didn't throw any interceptions. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 191 yards with no interceptions, but he still has only one touchdown pass in four starts. The Panthers lost WR Brandon LaFell to a head injury in the second half, but not before both he and WR David Gettis made some quality catches. They just didn't make enough of them. WR Steve Smith had another quiet afternoon, finishing with 47 yards on three catches. He was targeted just six times. TE Jeff King had a rough day with two false-start penalties and two drops.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Considering the Panthers were without their top three running backs, they got some quality production out of RBs Mike Goodson and Josh Vaughan. In his first career start, Goodson ran for 100 yards on 23 carries, becoming the team's first 100-yard rusher of the season, although he did have a costly fumble on the game's first possession that led to a 7-0 deficit. Vaughan, signed off Buffalo's practice squad, scored his first NFL touchdown in his first career game. Granted, it came against the league's 30th-ranked defense.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- Josh Freeman is turning out to be quite a young quarterback who'll give the Panthers fits for years. Freeman completed 18 of 24 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns for a passer rating of 134.2. Tight ends killed the Panthers, as Kellen Winslow and John Gilmore combined for nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. It didn't help that starting WLB Nic Harris was in the lineup making his first NFL start. Outside of Everette Brown's one sack, the Panthers hardly got any pressure on Freeman.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Panthers really struggled bringing down 247-pound RB LeGarrette Blount, who used his power to bowl his way for 91 yards on 19 carries. He ran for a touchdown. The Bucs piled up 186 yards on the ground, buoyed by Cadillac Williams' game-clinching, 45-yard touchdown run on third-and-10 late in the fourth quarter. It was a complete disappointment that the Panthers couldn't stop the run. That allowed Freeman to use the play-action fake and freeze the defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The Panthers got a 37-yard punt return from Captain Munnerlyn to set up a John Kasay field goal and also got a great play from Marcus Hudson, who pushed a Tampa Bay player into the ball on a punt. The Panthers recovered the ball for their only takeaway of the game. Kasay continues to have a fine season, converting all three field-goal attempts of 48, 46 and 28 yards. Carolina's coverage teams were terrific, holding the Bucs to 1.3 yards per punt return and 12.2 yards per kickoff return. Jordan Pugh and Gettis shared time on kickoff returns with Goodson forced to carry the load on offense.
COACHING: C -- Some amazing play-calling at the end of the game, wasn't it? The Panthers got to the 1-yard line and ran two quarterback sneaks with no timeouts remaining. They got stuffed both times. Why not throw the football? It is those play calls that have Carolina fans anxious for the departure of offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson. The Panthers fell to 1-8 on the season, putting them in a tie with Buffalo for the worst record in the NFL. It also assures the sixth non-winning season in the John Fox era. It's the first time the Panthers have been swept by the Bucs since 2002, Fox's first season.
How would you grade Carolina's performance? Discuss in the message boards.
Panthers Report Card: Week 10
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