TAMPA, Fla. — Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers crushed the Buccaneers 31-13 Thursday night, delivering another blow to beleaguered Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano.
“Fire Schiano” billboards started popping up around Tampa this week, and Newton showed no mercy, riddling the Buccaneers (0-7) with an outstanding performance.
Through the air, Newton was nearly flawless, going 23-for-32 for 221 yards without being intercepted. He threw two touchdown passes and ran another score, going untouched on a 6-yard dash to his left late in the third quarter.
On the ground, Carolina was efficient, rushing for 129 yards on 27 carries. At halftime, four Panthers ball carriers each averaged more than 6 yards per touch against the leaky Tampa Bay defense.
The Panthers (4-3) led 14-6 at halftime but piled it on the second half.
With the Buccaneers’ offense missing injured running back Doug Martin, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon couldn’t get the team into the end zone until the game was out of hand late in the fourth quarter. Glennon finished 30-for-51 for 275 yards and a touchdown.
Newton completed seven of eight passes for 57 yards in the first quarter as Carolina found the end zone at the end of a nearly nine-minute opening drive. After being forced out of the pocket, Newton threw across the field to tight end Greg Olsen for a 1-yard touchdown pass. Newton also ran for 23 yards in the quarter, including a 16-yard, third-down scramble to extend a drive deep into Buccaneers territory.
The Panthers converted their first five third downs, extending drives and eating up the clock.
The Buccaneers’ first possession was a quick three-and-out, but Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon then settled into a rhythm, going 11-for-16 for 124 yards in the first half.
After falling behind 7-0, Tampa Bay responded with an impressive drive, highlighted by a 29-yard grab on the sideline by Vincent Jackson. However, the Buccaneers stalled because of incompletions on second and third down at the Panthers 29-yard line. Rian Lindell kicked a 47-yard field goal to get the Buccaneers on the board.
Newton hit speedy receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on a shallow crossing route, helping him reach the sideline for a 35-yard pickup to get inside Tampa Bay’s 15-yard line. On the next play, DeAngelo Williams ran 12 yards off the left tackle for a touchdown.
Lindell cut Tampa Bay’s halftime deficit to 14-6 with a 48-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
Newton’s touchdown run provided the first points of the second half, and Carolina pushed the advantage to 28-6 on Newton’s 3-yard pass to fullback Mike Tolbert on the first play of the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Tampa Bay was without Martin (shoulder) and S Dashon Goldson (knee) after they sustained injuries in Atlanta on Sunday. Mike James, from the University of Miami, served as the Buccaneers’ primary ball-carrier. Keith Tandy made his first career start in place of Goldson. … WR Tavarres King was inactive after being claimed off waivers by Carolina this week. … Offensive coordinator Mike Shula called for passing plays on nine pass plays of the Panthers’ first 10 snaps. … Buccaneers CB Johnthan Banks went to the locker room with a second-quarter hip injury.