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Brady and Bucs Clinch 2nd straight NFC South title with 30-24 win over Carolina

TANPA, FL – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plauyed against the Carolina Panthers in a game that had playoff implications on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

Brady and Bucs Clinch 2nd straight NFC South title with 30-24 win over Carolina
Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, January 1, 2023, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady #12 readies to make a pass at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

A Buccaneers win would give them their second consecutive NFL South Title. A loss, would mean they are out of the playoffs.

Thee Bucs managed to pull out a 30-24 win over the Panthers and for the first time won back-to-back Division titles. The win is the 14th title for Tom Brady.

This year has been unlike the others, though, as it’s been characterized more by Buccaneers struggles than triumphs, with the saving grace being their residency in the NFC South, which is easily the worst division in the conference.

There were several records set in Sunday’s Buccaneers win.

  • Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans is now the third player in NFL history with nine straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, along with Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. He is also the first player in Tampa Bay history with 200 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a game and the first in franchise history with three 30-yard receiving touchdowns in a game.
  • Brady is tied with Drew Brees for the second most career games (11) with 400 passing yards and three touchdowns. 
  • Brady extended his own quarterback record with his 19th divisional title. Despite the Bucs having an off year and only standing at .500 heading into the final week of the regular season, they got help being in a less than challenging division. 

Tom Brady threw for 432 yards and three touchdowns, Mike Evans caught 10 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns and Chris Godwin had 120 receiving yards on nine catches. This is the kind of outing you want to have before the playoffs. The Buccaneers (8-8) are now guaranteed a home game in the wild card round even if they finish the season with a losing record. 

Brady and Bucs Clinch 2nd straight NFC South title with 30-24 win over Carolina
Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, January 1, 2023, Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver DJ Moore #2 receives a pass at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, but managed just 10 points in the second half while Tampa Bay dropped 20 points in the fourth quarter alone. Sam Darnold completed 23-of-37 passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while D.J. Moore caught six passes for 117 yards and a score.

In the first half for the Panthers looked much more excited to play the game of football, while Godwin lost a fumble, Ryan Succop missed a field goal and Brady was visibly upset with his teammates and himself. Then, this team as a whole settled in and delivered the best offensive performance of the season.

Evans put up season-high numbers across the board with 10 catches, 207 yards and three touchdowns. He had three touchdowns in 14 games coming into this matchup. 

Carolina’s leading rusher in D’Onta Foreman surprisingly had just 35 yards, and Darnold was just inconsistent. Ultimately, however, 24 points scored historically has been enough to beat the Buccaneers this season. This Panthers loss came down to the defense.

Brady and Bucs Clinch 2nd straight NFC South title with 30-24 win over Carolina
Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, January 1, 2023, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver Chris Godwin #14 makes a run as he readies himself for the tackle at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Panthers fans experienced deja vu the entire second half, as Evans scored again and again just by burning man coverage along the right sideline. Correct, all three touchdowns he scored came on the right sideline, in man coverage and occurred in the same end zone. The loss of Jaycee Horn loomed large. Carolina allowing Tampa Bay to drop 20 points in the fourth quarter alone blew this game wide open, and now, the Panthers’ postseason hopes have been dashed. 

Next, the Panthers travel to New Orleans next week, and will finish out the regular season against the rival Saints (7-9). As for the Buccaneers, they will travel to Atlanta to take on Desmond Ridder and the 6-10 Falcons. 

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