Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17, Carolina Panthers 14
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Tampa Bay's “Monday Night Football” win over Carolina:
Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 63.0
Winston’s role is minor in win
Jameis Winston was just about average in his start against the Panthers on Monday night. The offensive game plan certainly did not center around him throwing the ball against the Carolina secondary, with running back Jacquizz Rodgers getting 31 carries on the night. Winston had some success throwing to wide receiver Mike Evans, and didn't make any turnover-worthy throws. His largest downgrade came from his late second-quarter fumble that he luckily was able to recover himself, but he didn't make enough big plays to earn an above-average grade.
Top offensive grades:
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 79.8
G Kevin Pamphilee, 76.0
WR Mike Evans, 75.1
WR Vincent Jackson, 72.5
G Ali Marpet, 72.4
Jacquizz Rodgers stars in starting RB role
With star running back Doug Martin and backup running back Charles Simms out with injuries, the Bucs turned to third-stringer Jacquizz Rodgers on Monday night. Rodgers did not get much help from his offensive tackles, who had awful performances. Rodgers did much of the work himself by forcing eight missed tackles in the game, en route to recording a very hard-earned 101 rushing yards on the night.
Top defensive grades:
CB Brent Grimes, 85.7
LB Daryl Smith, 80.1
S Keith Tandy, 75.9
ED Noah Spence, 69.9
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 68.6
Defense produces a mixed performance
It was a middle-of-the-road performance for the Buccaneers defense. The unit benefited from not having to play against defending MVP Cam Newton, who was out due to a concussion, instead taking advantage of some poor decisions from backup QB Derek Anderson. The secondary was led by cornerback Brent Grimes, who allowed one catch on just two targets to go with a crucial interception, when Carolina had a first down at the 1-yard line late in the game. Opposite Grimes, rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves III held his own. He allowed six catches on eight targets but limited Carolina receivers to 70 yards, including just nine after the catch.
Quarterback grade: Derek Anderson, 45.6
Turnovers cost Anderson in close loss
For the most part, fill-in starting QB Derek Anderson actually had a solid day throwing the football. Tampa Bay’s defense was unable to create pressure for pretty much the entire night, resulting in Anderson having a clean pocket on 25 of his 29 dropbacks. With those 25 dropbacks, Anderson completed 17 of 24 passes for 268 yards, and he was especially effective at throwing intermediate and deeper throws, completing 11 of 14 of his throws that traveled at least 10 yards in the air for a total of 213 yards. Unfortunately for Anderson, however, he had two critical turnovers that killed both his overall grade along with Carolina’s chances of exiting Monday night with a victory. His goal-line interception by Tampa Bay CB Brent Grimes was especially damning.
Top offensive grades:
TE Greg Olsen, 95.8
C Ryan Kalil, 86.5
G Andrew Norwell, 81.5
G Trai Turner, 81.2
T Daryl Williams, 80.4
Olsen posts an excellent grade in defeat
Anderson relied upon star tight end Greg Olsen often, and the veteran most certainly delivered, hauling in nine of his 13 targets for 182 yards, with 64 of those coming after the catch. Olsen especially had his way with the Buccaneers' linebackers, catching six of seven targets for a total of 91 yards while being covered by Daryl Smith, Lavonte David or Kwon Alexander. The offensive line also had a very nice game, as they combined to allow just four total QB pressures (with none of them being sacks or hits) in pass protection, and with all of them except for Mike Remmers finishing with at least an above-average run-blocking grade.
Top defensive grades:
LB Luke Kuechly, 86.4
S Tre Boston, 81.0
DE Kony Ealy, 80.5
DE Mario Addison, 80.2
S Michael Griffin, 79.0
Missed tackles mask a solid performance
The Panthers did not get much help from their offense or special teams on the night, but they also were unable to get off the field in many key situations. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was his normal All-Pro self on Monday night, earning the highest grade on the Panthers' defense, and the team's edge defenders dominated the Buccaneers tackles, making Donovan Smith and Gosder Cherilus earn the lowest grades among Buccaneers offensive players on the night. But the Panthers missed too many tackles, allowing the Bucs to slowly grind out drives. Robert McClain led the team with three missed tackles in what turned out to be a disappointing loss.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers
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