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Rapid Reactions: Panthers shut out again, finish 2-15


CHARLOTTE — It wasn't much to look at, but at least it's over.

That was Sunday's game and the season as a whole for the Panthers' offense.

The Panthers lost a 9-0 decision to the playoff-bound Buccaneers Sunday to finish 2-15, heading into an offseason in which fixing the cast around quarterback Bryce Young will be the first priority. That will begin with finding the replacement for coach Frank Reich, who was fired after 11 games.

The Panthers managed just 199 yards on Sunday, and were held scoreless in back-to-back weeks for the first time in franchise history (and just the fifth overall). A week after getting shut out in Jacksonville, it was a rough ending to a season in which they were last in the league in total offense.

The one time the Panthers made a play in the first half (when they gained 106 yards), it came undone.

Bryce hit DJ Chark Jr. for a 43-yard touchdown, or what appeared to be a touchdown. But when Chark reached across the goal line, the ball was knocked loose by the Buccaneers, who recovered it in the end zone.

For an offense that struggled in the passing game all season, it was almost fitting, except for the 42 yards Chark gained prior to the fumble. It was their only pass play long than 8 yards on the day.

Likewise, in the second half, a Raheem Blackshear touchdown run was nullified by an illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr..

Those kinds of maddening mistakes will be what people remember about a season gone wrong.

As has been typical in the second half of the year, one of the bright spots was running back Chuba Hubbard, who ran 23 times for 83 yards.

When former coach John Fox took over in 2002, he said he went back and looked at the tape of the end of the 1-15 season in 2001 to see which players quit and which players didn't. John Fox would have loved him some Chuba Hubbard, who has played hard throughout the year, and shone when he got the chance late in the year.

- The news wasn't all bad, as defensive tackle Derrick Brown broke a league record in the first half.

Brown surpassed Christian Wilkins' 98 tackles last year, which was the most ever for a defensive lineman (since the stat was tracked beginning in 1994).

He's a first alternate to the Pro Bowl and would make the game if one of the first three backs out because of injury or Super Bowl participation. (And since one of them is San Francisco's Javon Kinlaw, that's a real possibility).

Brown finished the game with seven tackles and a sack, moving him to 103 tackles for the season. Technically, he broke his own record a few times along the way as well.

— Cornerback Jaycee Horn hasn't had a season to remember, but he finished strong.

The third-year corner, who missed 10 games with a hamstring injury and last week's with a toe issue, came back and played well in coverage Sunday.

No matter what happens this offseason, the next coach will walk into a situation with a strong starting secondary, with Horn and Donte Jacksonalongside veteran safeties Vonn Bell and Xavier Woods, and that's something to build on along with Brown and a solid core of a defense.

— Young was sacked three times during the day, moving him to 62 for the season.

That tied him with Steve Beuerlein for the franchise record for times sacked in a single season (which Beuerlein set in 2000).

It also moved him into fifth place on the league's all-time chart in that ignominious category, for the moment.

Only David Carr in 2002 (76), Randall Cunningham in 1986 (72), David Carr in 2005 (68), and Jon Kitna in 2006 (63) have been sacked more.

Washington quarterback Sam Howell is sitting on 61 heading into his afternoon start against Dallas.

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 18.

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