The Big Headline
It all came down to this: Fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line with 1:28 left. Panthers trailing 20-14.
Christian McCaffrey takes a direct snap and sprints to the left. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III meets him near the sideline and they both go out of bounds. Officials ruled McCaffrey short of the line to gain. It went under review. Players, coaches, the entire stadium waiting anxiously for the verdict.
The ruling stood.
The Panthers lost.
Carolina is now 0-2.
Third quarter troubles
The Panthers took a 12-10 lead in the third quarter, but the ensuing defensive series for Carolina was brutal.
Luke Kuechly dropped an interception and Gerald McCoy was penalized for unnecessary roughness and before they knew it, Bucs running back Peyton Barber was powering into the end zone for a 16-yard TD.
It got worse when Cam Newton fumbled the ball away moments later, setting up Tampa Bay near midfield. But the Panthers did catch a break as Bucs kicker Matt Gay missed a 41-yard attempt on the final play of the third quarter.
Speaking of third quarter troubles, there was also this: Bucs edge rusher Shaqil Barrett sacked Newton three times in the third quarter alone.
Slye with a big kick to end the first half
Tampa Bay took a 10-6 lead when Jameis Winston connected with Chris Godwin for a 20-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, leaving 1:20 on the clock.
Carolina moved the ball quickly however, as completions to DJ Moore, Greg Olsen and Chris Hogan but the ball at the Tampa Bay 34-yard line with 18 seconds left. But after Newton threw an incompletion, Christian McCaffrey took a handoff and was stuffed for -2. That brought out some boos and the Panthers were forced to burn their final timeout prior to a 54-yard field goal attempt.
The kicker came through, as Slye hit it to salvage the 2-min drill and cut the deficit to one before halftime.
Early weather delay
The momentum of the game was disrupted midway through the first quarter due to weather. Both teams went into the locker room after the Panthers were stopped on 4th-and-1.
The delay lasted 27 minutes total before play resumed. The Buccaneers took advantage of their short field, setting up a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Take a look at in-game photos from Thursday Night Football as the Panthers take on the Buccaneers.