Tagged in: panthers

Bucs beat Panthers 41-17, earn No. 2 playoff seeding in NFC

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took care of their own business, the defending Super Bowl champions permitted themselves to become scoreboard watchers.

Sunday’s 41-17 rout of the Carolina Panthers set a franchise record for regular-season victories, and the win — coupled with the Rams losing to the 49ers in overtime — also gave the Bucs (13-4) the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay will host Philadelphia in the wild-card round next week. Earning the No. 2 seed ensures a second home game in two weeks if the Bucs beat the Eagles.

Tom Brady’s not looking ahead, though.

“It just felt good to win today. Whatever happened with other teams, you can’t ever control any of those things. Even for the next game. … you’re worrying about two games from now. I’m not worried about two games from now, I’m worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles,” Brady said.

“I don’t care if the Rams would’ve won … that’s alright, we’ve still got the Eagles and that’s going to be the biggest game of our season,” Brady added.

“If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we’re still going, and that’s what we want to do.” Brady topped 5,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, joining Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history with multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven receptions for 137 yards.

“That’s what really matters,” Gronkowski added. “We did what we had to do, and the rest took care of itself.”

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns before taking the last half of the fourth quarter off, finishing with a career-best 5,316 yards passing and a Bucs single-season record 43 TD passes for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Mike Evans caught two of Brady’s TD passes, giving him a club-record 14 scoring receptions this year.

He also became the first player in NFL history to start a career with eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

Tampa Bay broke the club record for victories in a regular season set in 2002, when the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time.

Carolina (5-12) finished on a seven-game losing streak that leaves coach Matt Rhule’s future in question. The Panthers are 10-23 in two seasons under the former Temple and Baylor coach, who signed a seven-year contract to move to the NFL in 2020.

The Panthers wasted a chance to go up by double digits, turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa Bay 1 before the Brady turned the game around with an eight-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half.

Completions of 37 yards to Evans, 19 yards to Gronkowski and 24 yards to Breshad Perriman helped Brady move into position to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard TD pass to Le’Veon Bell.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter built the lead to 17-7. Evans caught TD passes of 3 and 20 yards, and receiver Scotty Miller scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Bucs.

Darnold completed 29 of 42 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Panthers, who fell to 0-4 against Tampa Bay under Rhule and have been outscored 150-63 by their NFC South rival in those matches.

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey injures hamstring, ruled out for game

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s match at Houston.

The injury occurred when McCaffrey was making a run to the left on first-and-10 from the Texans’ 14-yard line. He did what appeared to be a stutter step to avoid the defender and went immediately to the sideline after a 2-yard gain.

McCaffrey stayed in the sideline medical tent for 22 minutes before emerging and heading to the locker room. He walked under his own power with a slight limp.

McCaffrey was replaced by Chuba Hubbard, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State.

McCaffrey, who in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, entered the game as the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 324 yards.

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McCaffrey missed 13 games last campaign with multiple injuries, including a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2.

He returned this season looking stronger than ever.

He left late in the third quarter of last week’s victory against the New Orleans Saints to get a couple of IV bags for what he called “onset cramps.” He said earlier this week he was good go to.

On Thursday night, Carolina’s offense struggled after McCaffrey’s departure and went into halftime with only a 7-6 lead. Quarterback Sam Darnold, who completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 121 yards with no sacks before McCaffrey’s injury, finished the half 4-of-7 for 37 yards with three sacks.

McCaffrey’s value as a blocker often gets overlooked. In the Panthers’ opener, he saved Darnold from a sack by picking up the New York Jets’ tackle running free. The block allowed Darnold time to step up and to his left to throw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.

“That play doesn’t happen [without McCaffrey],” coach Matt Rhule said after the 19-14 victory.

Tight end Dan Arnold said McCaffrey helps open up all the possibilities of offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s offense.

“We kind of stopped as a tight end group [in film review] and said, ‘This is the kind of player he is,'” Arnold said after seeing the replay of McCaffrey’s block.

“It’s exciting to be able to play with a guy like that, that will step in front of it no matter what. He wants to win, not only for himself, but everybody else. “On the flip side, that’s what he demands from everybody else.”

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Carolina Panthers release DT Kawann Short

Kawann Short has been around the NFL long enough to realize what happens to guys as they age, stack up injuries, and get expensive.

Tuesday, it happened.

The Panthers released the veteran defensive tackle Tuesday, starting the process of clearing up some cap space.

They’ll save $8.6 million worth of room with the move, which will come in handy. With the salary cap for 2021 dropping from $198.2 million to $175 million (though it could rise slightly in the coming weeks), every dollar is going to count this offseason.

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This was a predictable move, and Short seemed to realize it

Explaining at the end of the season that he knew his combination of age, recent injuries, and finances made this likely.

“We’re all grown here. So you know what it is,” Short said the day after the season. “This is a ‘what can you do for me now’ business, so for me to have injuries back to back, it definitely put that in your head, whether the team wants you or not.”

The 32-year-old Short has played in just five games the last two seasons because of shoulder problems and had the second-highest cap number on the roster for 2021, making the move inevitable.

When healthy, he was a steady producer for the Panthers with 32.5 sacks in his first six seasons. And they’ll clearly need to find someone who can do what he did when well, as coaches have identified adding a three-technique defensive tackle spot as a priority.

Converted defensive end Efe Obada was useful there last season, second on the team with 5.5 sacks, but they’d like to find a productive starter to continue to use him as a reserve.

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Redskins get QB Kyle Allen in trade with Panthers

The Redskins have been talking about trades when it comes to Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar, but on Monday, the team in fact completed a deal.

Washington acquired quarterback Kyle Allen from Carolina and sent a fifth-round pick to the Panthers in return for the passer, according to NFL Network reports. 

After some rumors about Cam Newton, the Burgundy and Gold landed a far less famous signal caller from Ron Rivera’s former franchise, but one that makes a lot of sense for his new one.

Allen, who just turned 24 years old, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018 out of the University of Houston after initially starting his college career at Texas A&M.

Allen started the 2018 campaign finale for the Panthers and started 12 more contests in 2019 in place of an injured Newton, before ceding the job to Will Grier for the final few weeks.

He concluded last year with a 5-7 record and a passer rating of 80. He threw 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and completed 62-percent of his passes.

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This trade gives the Redskins someone who’ll be very familiar with Rivera and Scott Turner’s plan on offense, something that could be even more valuable than normal thanks to the unusual offseason that may be ahead for the NFL. 

The trade also should put to rest any question of Dwayne Haskins’ status on the depth chart.

While Allen definitely flourished at times in Carolina — his best pro games top Haskins’ best — and he should be able to give some level of heat on Washington’s first-rounder, it’s hard to imagine him beating Haskins out as of now.

Some will take issue with the Redskins swapping a fifth-rounder for Allen — the Panthers had a surplus of signal callers after adding XFL star PJ Walker earlier Monday — but it’s a move that they clearly felt like they had to make before a possible release.

Washington now has a young, ideal backup in place who should be able to fill in for Haskins if need be, but overall, can move forward with Haskins as their No. 1 QB. Rivera may not come out and declare that, but his actions definitely indicate it.

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