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Carolina Panthers

Rapid Reactions: Panthers stun Buccaneers, 21-3

D'Onta Foreman

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers didn't get the memo.

While the world thought their season was over, days after they traded Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers for four draft picks, the Panthers had something else in mind.

With an interim coach, an interim quarterback, and an interim backfield, the Panthers beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers 21-3 Sunday at Bank of America Stadium to improve to 2-5.

Yes, you read that correctly.

So many times already this year, the Panthers have lost games like this one, games in which they played defense with heart but didn't have the kind of lung capacity to stay on the field all day. Sunday, they made plays on both sides of the ball throughout the day.

In the long run, it's impossible to know what this win will mean for a franchise, which was 1-5, and talking about the future on Friday morning. But in the short term, it was exactly what they needed.

Interim coach Steve Wilks won his first game in his hometown stadium, the kind of homecoming no one envisioned.

But there were so many people in the mood to celebrate Sunday.

There were so many defensive players stepping up throughout the day.

There was Brian Burns with an early sack on Brady to set the tone.

There was Shaq Thompson and then Cory Littleton with back-to-back run stops from the 25, stifling the Buccaneers on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1.

There was a fourth-quarter sequence when the Panthers were out there with one starter in the secondary (safety Xavier Woods), with Keith Taylor Jr. and Tae Hayes at corner against the greatest quarterback in the history of the league.

But that wasn't all.

PJ Walker made plays downfield in the passing game, including a touchdown in the first half to DJ Moore, and the answer in the fourth quarter to Tommy Tremble.

And days after sending McCaffrey to the 49ers for four draft picks, they ran the ball well too.

D'Onta Foreman had 118 yards to lead the way, and Chuba Hubbard added another 64 of his own. They were the third-quarter drive that put the Panthers comfortably ahead, with Foreman's 60-yard burst followed by Hubbard's 17-yard touchdown.

— Walker was practically perfect in the first half.

Other than a drop by Terrace Marshall Jr. on his first pass of the day, Walker was 11-of-12 for 125 yards and a touchdown, for a passer rating of 137.8.

By comparison, Brady was 14-of-21 for 113 yards, and had an 80.1 passer rating in the first half.

For the game, Walker went 16-of-22 for 177 yards with two touchdowns and a 126.5 passer rating while Brady was 32-of-49 for 290 yards and a 81.2 rating.

— The Panthers entered the game short-handed on defense, and it looked like it was going to get worse.

Both Donte Jackson and CJ Henderson spent some time on the sidelines in the first half, but returned to the game.

They were without starter Jaycee Horn, who missed a second straight game with a rib injury.

Jackson kept going in and out of the game — he's clearly not 100 percent — but he wasn't about to miss this one and finished with a game-high 10 tackles.

View best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 7 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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