The Series: With the 38-19 victory, Carolina ended a two-game losing streak against Tampa Bay and leads the all-time series 13-9. The Panthers and Buccaneers will meet again later this season at Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 24.
For Starters: Second-year defensive tackle Andre Neblett made his first start of the season in place of rookie Sione Fua, who suffered a hamstring injury in pregame warm-ups and did not play. It marked Neblett's second career start after also being the starting lineup at Pittsburgh (12/23/10) when Carolina opened with five defensive linemen.
Newton By Ground: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton scored on three one-yard runs to set the NFL single-season record for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 13, surpassing the previous mark of 12 by Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots in 1976. Newton finished the game with 54 rushing yards on 14 attempts to go along with the three touchdowns.
The three rushing touchdowns equal the second most in a game by a Carolina player, previously accomplished four times - most recently by Stephen Davis versus New England (9/18/05). The team single-game record for rushing touchdowns is four, accomplished twice by DeAngelo Williams - most recently at the New York Giants (12/21/08).
Newton has rushed for 518 yards and a team-leading 13 touchdowns on 100 carries this season. His 13 rushing touchdowns are the second most in franchise history, five behind the team record of 18 by DeAngelo Williams in 2008. Additionally, his rushing yardage and rushing touchdown totals are the most in a season by a Panthers quarterback, eclipsing the previous highs of 128 yards and six touchdowns by Chris Weinke in 2001.
Newton By Air: Rookie quarterback Cam Newton completed 12-of-21 passes to seven different receivers for 204 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions to compile a 106.1 quarterback rating. He threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Legedu Naanee in the second quarter.
The starter in all 12 games, Newton has completed 251-of-413 passes for 3,297 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions to post an 82.4 quarterback rating. The 3,297 passing yards are the fourth most by a rookie in NFL history and the most by a rookie in Panthers history, surpassing the 2,931 yards by Chris Weinke in 2001.
Newton has passed for 300 or more yards in three games, producing three of the top four single-game passing totals in team history. He threw a touchdown in each of the first five games - the longest streak by a rookie quarterback in team history - bettering Weinke's four consecutive games with a touchdown pass in 2001.
Trick Play: Wide receiver Legedu Naanee completed a 27-yard pass to quarterback Cam Newton on a double pass play. On first-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 29-yard line in the first quarter, Naanee first caught what appeared to be a screen but was actually a lateral from Newton. He then lofted the ball back to Newton, who hauled in his first NFL catch and ran behind a wall of blockers to the Buccaneers' two-yard line.
For Naanee, it was his second career pass attempt - both completions. A former quarterback in college at Boise State, he previously connected on a 21-yard toss to running back LaDainian Tomlinson for San Diego at Cleveland (12/6/09). Naanee's pass represented the first by someone other than Newton for the Panthers this season.
Last year at Auburn, Newton posted two receptions for 42 yards - including a 20-yard touchdown. He becomes the third quarterback in team history to catch a pass, joining Kerry Collins with one reception for minus 11 yards in 1998 and Dameyune Craig (also another former Auburn product) with two catches for four yards in 2000. It should be noted that Craig lined up at running back on both of his receptions.
Stewart Carries The Load: Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for a team-high 80 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries, scoring on a one-yard run. He added two catches for 19 yards. Stewart ranks second on the team with 522 yards and three touchdowns on 107 attempts and is tied for third with a career-high 38 catches for 360 yards.
The fourth-year running back is second in team history with 25 rushing touchdowns, 4.73-yard rushing average and nine games with 100 or more rushing yards. Stewart also stands third with 690 rushing attempts and 3,261 rushing yards (needs 76 yards to pass DeShaun Foster for second in team history).
Offensive Line Paves The Way: Behind an offensive line featuring Jordan Gross at left tackle, Travelle Wharton and Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Geoff Hangartner at right guard and Byron Bell at right tackle, the Panthers accumulated 163 yards rushing on a season-high 39 attempts - an average of 4.2 yards per carry - with a season-high four touchdowns.
The front five has helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in a franchise-record tying 10 consecutive games, previously accomplished in 2008. The Panthers have exceeded 100 yards on the ground with 107 versus Jacksonville (9/25/11), 169 at Chicago (10/2/11), 162 versus New Orleans (10/9/11), 139 at Atlanta (10/16/11), 175 versus Washington (10/23/11), 140 versus Minnesota (10/30/11), 113 versus Tennessee (11/13/11), 137 at Detroit (11/20/11) and a season-high 201 at Indianapolis (11/27/11).
The Panthers, who began the game ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing and second in rushing yards per attempt, are averaging 137.6 yards per game and 5.0 yards per attempt.
On The Receiving End: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell paced Carolina with three receptions for 64 yards. Over his last three games, he has hauled in 11 catches for 161 yards to move up to fifth on the team with 29 receptions for 455 yards.
Streaking: Wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Jeremy Shockey extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Smith set a team record with a reception in 71 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Wesley Walls who made a reception in 70 consecutive games from 1996-2001. Shockey, meanwhile, has caught a pass in all 132 regular season games he has played.
Big Plays, Long Drives: The Panthers continued their ability to create big plays, gains of 20 or more yards. Entering the game ranked first in the NFL with 63 such plays this season, Carolina produced nine more against Tampa Bay on six passes and three runs. The Panthers have now generated 72 big plays - seven of which have been touchdowns - on 57 passes and 15 runs.
Carolina also began the game with the third-most touchdown drives of 80-plus yards in the NFL this year, churning out 15 such drives. The Panthers manufactured three more against the Buccaneers: a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the opening possession of the game that was capped by a one-yard run by quarterback Cam Newton; an eight-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter that was culminated by a 19-yard pass from Newton to wide receiver Legedu Naanee; and a season-high 15-play, 91-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was climaxed by a one-yard run by Newton. Carolina now has generated 18 touchdown drives of 80 or more yards this season. The Panthers average touchdown drive length is 70.3 yards with the shortest touchdown drive being 29 yards at Detroit (11/20/11).
In The Zone: The Panthers posted a 100 percent efficiency rating in the red zone, scoring five touchdowns on five trips inside the Buccaneers' 20-yard line. Carolina has been successful on 37-of-45 red zone opportunities, scoring 25 touchdowns and 12 field goals for an 82.2 percent conversion rate and 55.6 percent touchdown conversion rate, this season.
Third Down Equals First Down: Carolina produced a 54.5 percent third-down efficiency rating, converting six-of-11 third downs. It marked the team's second-best third-down conversion rate this season behind a 66.7 percent mark at Atlanta (10/16/11).
That success on third down helped the Panthers equal their season high of 26 first downs, previously accomplished twice - at Arizona (9/11/11) and versus Green Bay (9/18/11). Carolina gained 12 first downs rushing, 10 passing and four by penalty. The team record for the most first downs in a game is 27, accomplished three times - most recently versus Minnesota (10/30/05).
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced one turnover on rookie defensive end Thomas Keiser's first career interception. The Panthers did not commit any turnovers to finish with a plus-one turnover ratio. The one takeaway resulted in seven points for Carolina. The Panthers have a negative-three turnover ratio this season, compiling a 4-0 record when having a positive turnover margin, an 0-5 record when being even in turnover margin, and an 0-3 record when having a negative turnover margin.
Run Stuffers: The Panthers allowed a season-low 78 rushing yards on 27 attempts, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Of those 78 yards, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson gained 45 of them on five scrambles. With that yardage removed, Carolina held Tampa Bay to an average of 1.5 yards per carry on 22 attempts for 33 yards. The Panthers limited Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount, who had posted consecutive 100-yard outings and entered the game ranked 10th in the NFC in rushing, to 19 yards on 11 attempts.
Sakrete Sacks: The Panthers collected two sacks against Tampa Bay. Rookie defensive end Thomas Keiser corralled Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson for a 12-yard sack in the first quarter. He is tied with defensive end Greg Hardy for second on the team with three sacks this season. Defensive end Charles Johnson gathered his team-leading 8.5th sack, dropping Johnson for a 10-yard loss in the fourth quarter.
During the 2011 season, Sakrete, a leader in concrete and concrete-related products, is donating $100 to the BVC Playground Build for every sack Carolina records. Through 12 games, the Panthers have 23 sacks, raising $2,300.
Mare Kicks Up The Charts: Kicker Olindo Mare kicked one field goal to move into a tie with Al Del Greco for 14th place in NFL history for the most field goals with 347. He also ranks 16th all-time with 1,506 points scored.
Against Tampa Bay, Mare made all five of his extra point chances and connected on his only field goal attempt, converting from 43 yards. He has been successful on 29-of-30 extra point opportunities and 19-of-24 field goal attempts for a team-leading 86 points this season.
Mare reached the end zone on all six of his kickoffs with three touchbacks, helping limit the Buccaneers to an average kickoff drive start of the 23-yard line. He has placed 54-of-62 kickoffs in the end zone with 41 touchbacks this season. Since 1997, Mare leads the NFL with 279 touchbacks.
Baker's Treat: Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 38.0 yards and net average of 24.0 yards with none inside the 20, no touchbacks and long of 46 yards on three punts. His gross average decreased to 41.5 yards and his net average dropped to 33.1 yards with 15 punts inside the 20, four touchbacks and long of 56 yards this season.
Baker is the Panthers' all-time leader with 553 punts and 165 punts inside the 20. He ranks second with a 43.91-yard gross punting average behind Todd Sauerbrun's 45.54 average.
Double Duty: Wide receiver Armanti Edwards returned one punt for 12 yards with one fair catch. He is averaging 6.3 yards on 26 returns with a long of 17 yards this year.
With primary kick returner Kealoha Pilares inactive because of an injured quad, Edwards also handled kickoff return duties. He returned one kickoff for 17 yards as the Buccaneers' five other kickoffs were touchbacks. The kickoff return was the first of Edwards' career. His only other previous experience was returning two kicks for 39 yards during the 2010 preseason.
Claw Marks: The Panthers won back-to-back games for the first time since finishing the 2009 season with victories versus Minnesota (12/20/09), at the New York Giants (12/27/09) and versus New Orleans (1/3/10)...Carolina earned consecutive road wins for the first time since winning at Tampa Bay (10/18/09) and at Arizona (11/1/09)...The Panthers' 38 points represented the most the team has totaled since posting 41 at the New York Giants (12/27/09)...Carolina was penalized two times for 20 yards. The two penalties equaled the third-fewest penalties in a game in team history - previously achieved five times, most recently at the New York Giants (12/21/08). The team record for fewest penalties is zero versus Green Bay (12/14/97)...Wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu made his first catch of the season on a four-yard grab for a first down in the fourth quarter.
Inactives: The following seven players were inactive for the Panthers: wide receiver Darvin Adams, guard Bryant Browning, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, linebacker Omar Gaither, cornerback Brandon Hogan, linebacker Jason Phillips and wide receiver Kealoha Pilares.
Swashbucklers: Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth converted all four of his field goal attempts to tie the record for the most field goals made against Carolina, previously accomplished five times - most recently by Phil Dawson for Cleveland (10/8/06).