- Once again, Josh Norman stars for the Carolina Panthers as he intercepted Jameis Winston and returned it for a touchdown to give the Panthers a 10-0 lead. This was Norman's third interception of the season and the second one he has returned for a touchdown, which are both career highs. The fourth-year cornerback has been playing at an incredibly high level this year and is second in the league with total turnovers with four.
- Once again, the Panthers' pass rush has been rather quiet but this has to be expected with the team bringing in two new players this week. Jared Allen and Ryan Delaire have seen signficiant playing time in the first half but Delaire is the only one showing on the stat sheet with one tackle. Allen almost had a sack at the end of the first half when he tripped up Winston but the Bucs' quarterback was able to flick it forward and the pass was incomplete.
- Even though the Bucs have three turnovers, they are within striking distance of the lead due in large part to the Panthers' defense inability to get off the field. The Bucs in the first half converted 4 of 7 third down opportunities and has helped them extend drives and convert it to points.
- The Panthers offense meanwhile has struggled to move the ball and if it wasn't for the three turnovers, it is hard to imagine they would be on the scoreboard at this point. The offense's two scoring drives were thanks to short fields off two of the turnovers (Kurt Coleman interception and a fumble recovery by Star Lotulelei). The passing game has been rather quiet in the first half with Newton only throwing for 68 passing yards, completing 50% of his passes and averaging less than five yards per attempt. Meanwhile the running game has been decent with Jonathan Stewart already running for 38 yards and the Panthers offense as a whole averaging over four yards a carry. The coaching staff will need to find a way to open up this offense and take a few shots deep to try and help the run game find a little more room.
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.