Stats and Superlatives: Defense Claims Six Sacks

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TEAM STATS

The Panthers:

  • Clinched a playoff berth for the fourth time in the past five years, tying Green Bay and Seattle for the most NFC playoff appearances since 2013.
  • Improved to 7-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last season, they were 2-6 in such games. 
  • Converted just one of their five trips inside the red zone into touchdowns. Carolina entered the game with touchdowns in 13 of its previous 17 red zone trips. 
  • Held Tampa Bay to just one touchdown on its six trips inside the red zone. Carolina leads the NFL in red zone defense (35.0 pct) over its last six games.
  • Totalled 255 net yards, one short of its season low, also against Tampa Bay (254 in Week 8). 
  • Returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the first time since Kealoha Pilares did it in Detroit in 2011. Carolina now has a punt return and kickoff return for touchdown in the same season for first time since 2003 (Steve Smith - punt; Rod Smart - kickoff).
  • Forced three turnovers, extending their takeaway streak to eight games. Over that stretch, Carolina has 17 takeaways, a 11 turnover differential and 59 points off turnovers, all of which rank second in the NFL.
  • Racked up six sacks, tying their single-season high. Carolina now has a league-leading three games with at least six sacks.
  • Rushed for 115 yards, improving to 9-3 when rushing for at least 100 yards. Over its last eight games, Carolina has averaged a league-best 166.8 rushing yards.
  • Improved to 10-0 when out-rushing the opposition.
  • Improved to 10-0 when leading at halftime. 
  • Won for the first time this season when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter.


  • Extended its franchise-record streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 19 games.
  • Allowed a season-high 367 passing yards. 
  • Gave up 107 receiving yards to WR Mike Evans. He's the fifth different player with a 100-yard receiving game in Carolina's past seven games. The Panthers didn't allow anyone to hit 100 yards in their first eight games. 
  • Improved to 23-7 in December since 2011. Those 23 wins are one behind New England for the league lead over that stretch.

The Buccaneers:

  • Totaled 392 net yards. It was the seventh time this season the Bucs had at least 390 yards, but they're now 1-6 in those games.
  • Intercepted QB Cam Newton in the second half. Since Week 8, Newton has only thrown three interceptions and two of those have come against Tampa Bay.

PLAYER STATS

Panthers: 

  • QB Cam Newton delivered a game-winning drive for the second time in three weeks and third time this season. Newton finished with 52 rushing yards, passing Steve Young (4,239) and moving into third place in career rushing yards by a QB.
  • RB Christian McCaffrey passed former WR Kelvin Benjamin for most receptions by a Panthers' rookie (75). McCaffrey now holds single-season franchise records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a running back.
  • WR Damiere Byrd took a kickoff return 103 yards for a touchdown. It set a new franchise record for longest kickoff return and tied for the longest return in the NFL this season.
  • DE Wes Horton registered 1.5 sacks and had a forced fumble. He has a team-best five forced fumbles since Week 15 of 2016.
  • DE Julius Peppers picked up a sack and had two fumble recoveries. He now has nine fumble recoveries as a Panther and 20 in his career, tied for second-most all-time. 
  • DT Kawann Short had 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble. He has 24.5 sacks over the last three seasons, ranking third among DTs over that stretch.

Buccaneers:

  • QB Jameis Winston completed 21-of-27 passes for 367 yards with one touchdown and a 131.1 passer rating, the second-highest mark of his career. 
  • K Patrick Murray hit four field goals, the most against Carolina this season. But his miss from 51 yards out in the fourth quarter allowed the Panthers to drive for the game-winning touchdown.

View the top photos from the Panthers vs. Buccaneers game by team photographer, Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez, and second shooter, Jamey Price.

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