The Series: With the 16-6 victory, Carolina defeated Tampa Bay for the third consecutive time and for the fourth time in the last five meetings and leads the all-time series 12-7. The Panthers swept the season series with the Buccaneers after winning, 28-21, earlier this year at Raymond James Stadium (10/18/09). Since the two teams began playing in the NFC South in 2002, Carolina and Tampa Bay have split the season series three times, and one of the two clubs has swept the season series on five occasions.
Inactives: The following eight players were inactive for the Panthers: quarterback Jake Delhomme, fullback Tony Fiammetta, wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, defensive end Charles Johnson, defensive tackle Derek Landri, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, guard Duke Robinson, and running back DeAngelo Williams.
For Starters: Matt Moore started at quarterback in place of Jake Delhomme, who was out with a broken finger on his right hand. It marked Moore's fourth career start with the others coming in the last three games of the 2007 season versus Seattle (12/16/07), versus Dallas (12/22/07) and at Tampa Bay (12/30/07).
Second-year running back Jonathan Stewart made his first-career start, opening in place of DeAngelo Williams - who did not play because of a sprained ankle suffered at the New York Jets (11/29/09).
Also on offense, Dante Rosario made his fifth start of the season as the Panthers began in a two-tight end set. Defensively, Charles Godfrey replaced Sherrod Martin in the lineup at free safety. He started the first six games before suffering an ankle injury versus Buffalo (10/25/09).
Kasay Kicks Milestones: Kicker John Kasay booted a 23-yard first-quarter field goal, one of three for the game, to become just the seventh player in NFL history to make 400 career field goals. He finished the game with 10 points to move into 10th place all time in NFL history for points scored with 1,703, bettering the 1,699 totaled by Jan Stenerud from 1967-1985.
"He got a game ball in there today. He is a remarkable guy and someone I feel very fortunate to coach," head coach John Fox said. "To have that kind of longevity and accomplish what he has accomplished doesn't happen very much in anybody's career. That is a great accomplishment for him and his family."
Against Tampa Bay, Kasay connected on all three of his field attempts, converting from 23, 40 and 23 yards, and his only extra-point chance. He has been successful on 16-of-20 field-goal attempts and perfect on all 21 of his extra-point opportunities for a team-leading 69 points this season. In addition to ranking 10th in NFL history in scoring, Kasay stands seventh with 401 made field goals. He is the Panthers' all-time leader with 1,362 points scored and has made a team-record 156 consecutive extra points.
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced five turnovers on five interceptions, the team's second-most takeaways this season behind the six collected at Arizona (11/1/09). The Panthers turned it over twice on one interception and one fumble to finish with a plus-three turnover ratio. The five takeaways resulted in nine points for Carolina, and the two giveaways led to three points for Tampa Bay. The Panthers have a negative-six turnover ratio this season.
Pick Pockets: The Panthers' five interceptions, all of which occurred in Carolina territory, rank as the second most in team history - previously accomplished earlier this season at Arizona (11/1/09). The team record for the most interceptions in a game is six versus St. Louis (12/12/04).
Safety Charles Godfrey intercepted his first pass of the season on the Buccaneers' opening possession of the game on an overthrown ball at the Panthers' 18-yard line. He returned it 12 yards to set up John Kasay's first field goal, which gave Carolina a 10-0 advantage.
Linebacker Jon Beason registered two interceptions, the 17th time in team history that a player recorded two thefts in one game. He stepped in front of a Josh Freeman pass at the goal line on Tampa Bay's first possession of the second half for his first pick. Following a Carolina turnover in the third quarter, Beason seized the momentum right back on the Buccaneers' first play with his second interception at the Panthers' three-yard line.
Safety Chris Harris forced a turnover and saved a touchdown for the second consecutive game. After forcing a fumble at Carolina's one-yard line last week at the New York Jets (11/29/08), he made an interception in the end zone on fourth-and-goal. A touchdown by Tampa Bay would have tied the game at 13.
Cornerback Chris Gamble thwarted the Buccaneers' final scoring opportunity with his second interception in as many games and returned it 12 yards. He ranks second in team history with 23 interceptions and 283 interception return yards behind Eric Davis with 25 interceptions and Mike Minter with 418 interception return yards.
Beason, Gamble, Richard Marshall and Sherrod Martin are tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
Red Zone Defense: Carolina yielded a season-low six points to Tampa Bay, bettering the previous low of 17 points on two occasions - versus Washington (10/11/09) and at the New York Jets (11/29/09). Despite allowing four Buccaneers' drives inside their 20-yard line, the Panthers gave up just three points on those four possessions, creating two takeaways and forcing one missed field goal.
Sack Party: The Panthers collected two sacks against the Buccaneers and have gathered 23 this season. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden registered his first-career sack when he dropped Josh Freeman for a two-yard loss in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Julius Peppers also notched one quarterback takedown and leads the team with 8.5 this season. He ranks as the Panthers' all-time leader with 79.0 sacks, including 15.5 in 15 career meetings against Tampa Bay.
Hot Stew: Running back Jonathan Stewart compiled a team-leading 120 yards and one touchdown - scoring on a three-yard run in the first quarter - on a single-game high 26 carries to produce his fourth career 100-yard rushing performance, three of which have come against the Buccaneers. He previously rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns versus Tampa Bay (12/8/08) and 110 yards and one touchdown at Tampa Bay (10/18/09). Stewart surpassed his previous high of 19 attempts, achieved versus Kansas City (10/5/08). He ranks second on the Panthers with 664 yards and seven touchdowns on 145 carries this season.
Gaining Ground: Behind an offensive line featuring Travelle Wharton at left tackle, Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Keydrick Vincent at right guard and Jeff Otah at right tackle, the Panthers' fifth-ranked rushing attack gained 157 yards and one touchdown on 33 attempts for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Carolina is averaging 151.9 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per rush this season, including an average of 179.3 yards per game and 5.2 yards per rush in the last eight games.
Moore Notes: Quarterback Matt Moore completed 14-of-20 passes for 161 yards and no touchdowns with one interception to produce a 73.1 quarterback rating. His 66-yard completion to wide receiver Steve Smith in the fourth quarter represents Carolina's longest offensive play this year, and his 70.0 completion percentage stands as the highest by a Panthers' passer in 2009. In three games with one start this season, Moore has completed 20-of-32 passes for 224 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
On The Receiving End: Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad paced the Panthers with four receptions for 43 yards. He is second on the team with 38 catches for 382 yards this season.
Wide receiver Steve Smith tallied a team-high 78 receiving yards on three catches. His 66-yard reception from quarterback Matt Moore in the fourth quarter stands as Carolina's longest offensive play this year. Smith leads the Panthers with 49 catches for 682 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Tight ends accounted for five catches for 28 yards. Jeff King notched three receptions for 17 yards, including one that gained 15 yards to the Buccaneers' four-yard line on the Panthers opening drive of the game. Dante Rosario added two catches for 11 yards, one of which resulted in a first down. Of his 46-career receptions, 33 (71.7 percent) have yielded a first down or touchdown
Rookie wide receiver Charly Martin made his first NFL catch for six yards in the third quarter.
In The Zone: The Panthers scored on all three of their trips inside the Buccaneers' 20-yard line, producing one touchdown and two field goals. Carolina has been successful on 25-of-31 red zone opportunities, scoring 15 touchdowns and 10 field goals for an 80.6 percent conversion rate and 48.4 percent touchdown conversion rate this season.
Baker's Treat: Punter Jason Baker generated a gross average of 48.8 yards and net average of 45.6 yards with two inside the 20, no touchbacks and long of 53 yards on five punts. His gross average increased to 45.7 yards and his net average improved to 37.3 yards with 18 punts inside the 20, three touchbacks, one block and long of 61 yards this season.
Swashbucklers: Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Bryant became the first player to accumulate more than 100 receiving yards against the Panthers this season with 116 yards on five receptions. He also had the most yards of any opponent last year with 200 yards on nine catches at Carolina (12/8/08)...Quarterback Josh Freeman became just the second player to pass for more than 300 yards against the Panthers in 2009 with 321 yards on 23-of-44 passing. Carolina's pass defense surrendered a season-high 330 yards to Drew Brees at New Orleans (11/8/09).