TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was a defensive effort worthy of a playoff contender — 57 minutes into last Sunday’s game against Carolina, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense had held the Panthers offense to just six points. A kickoff return for a touchdown was the only score allowed by the Bucs.
Then came back-to-back completions by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for 36 yards. One critical Bucs penalty and favorable fourth down measurement later, the Panthers finally broke through for the winning touchdown in a 22-19 Carolina victory.
For all the injuries and miscommunication throughout the season, the Bucs defense stood on its head in a game that wound up being the playoff clincher for the Panthers.
In the final News Channel 8 ‘Koetter’s Korner’ interview of the season, head coach Dirk Koetter would not let one fateful drive erase what he considered the team’s best defensive day of the season.
“Our defense gave up 13 points to a team that scored over 30, six or seven games in a row,” Koetter said. “You would like to get that one more stop. But you don’t win it or lose it on one side of the ball. We had a lot of opportunities.”
The same could be said for Koetter’s quarterback, Jameis Winston. With his shoulder injury behind him, Winston stood out with another start worthy of a victory. Winston finished the game completing 21 of 27 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown.
But, like the defense, he fell short of the best complete day. Winston fumbled the ball three times, with two of the turnovers leading to six Carolina points.
Hanging over the team’s season finale is another round of coaching rumors and an uncertain future for the staff and players at One Buc Place. Koetter said he is well aware of things that are said outside the building but will put his focus on
Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
“Everybody has families. Everybody has lives,” Koetter said. “We’re paid to focus and do our best in every game and this week will be no exception.”