|Date of game: 9/7/2014
Recap: Tampa Bay vs. Carolina
Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Derek Anderson made a spot start for Cam Newton and led the Carolina Panthers to a 20-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener for both teams on Sunday.
Anderson threw for 230 yards and two scores in relief of the starter Newton, who was inactive for the game with a fractured rib he sustained in the preseason.
"We're very fortunate. We've got a couple of really good backup quarterbacks. Derek is an established quarterback in this league," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "At the same time, I know who Cam Newton is and I want him on the football field."
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and Newton were both adamant throughout the week that the star quarterback would be under center against the Bucs, but the injury was an obvious concern and he was held out of the contest.
Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen each caught a touchdown pass, with Benjamin leading the Panthers with 92 yards on six catches. Olsen hauled in eight passes for 83 yards for the Panthers (1-0), who won their third straight game over the Bucs.
Josh McCown went 22-of-35 for 183 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Tampa Bay (0-1), which couldn't get a victory in head coach Lovie Smith's debut.
Carolina led 17-0 early in the fourth after Anderson hooked up with Benjamin for a 26-yard score.
On the ensuing Panthers possession, Graham Gano missed a 48-yard field goal which sparked a comeback attempt from the Bucs that came up just short in the end.
McCown quickly drove Tampa Bay down the field, hitting Chris Owusu for a 19- yard touchdown to cap a 6-play, 62-yard drive that took just over two minutes to complete.
The Bucs defense forced a punt before McCown led another quick march down the field.
On 2nd-and-6 from the Panthers 6, McCown rolled out of the pocket and threw to Mike Evans in the back of the end zone. The ball was tipped up in the air as it floated to Evans, who had to make an acrobatic adjustment to his backside, leaping back to snag the catch for what appeared to be a touchdown, but officials ruled it incomplete. Evans was out of bounds in the back of the end zone just as he left his feet for the ball. After a video review, officials confirmed the call on the field as an incompletion.
McCown then hit Bobby Rainey, who played a majority of the second half at tailback as a replacement for Doug Martin, with a pass in the flat for a touchdown.
"I hit a stretch of playing better and making better decisions," McCown said of his late-game play. "I'm not quite sure what it was, but it was good to get going."
Martin injured his left knee earlier in the contest. He did come back for a few plays after seeing medical attention in the locker room, but was not the same and the Bucs head coach opted for a healthier Rainey late.
Tampa Bay's defense stood tall again, forcing a quick punt after just 30 seconds from cutting the deficit to three.
That momentum would be short-lived, however, as Rainey caught a short pass along the near sideline and was stripped by Luke Kuechly. Bene Benwikere recovered the loose ball and Gano converted a 33-yard field goal to account for the final margin.
After a scoreless first quarter, Anderson connected with Olsen on a 5-yard touchdown that opened the scoring in the second. Gano supplied a 28-yard kick to give the Panthers a 10-0 lead at halftime.Game Notes
Guard Logan Mankins, who was acquired by Tampa Bay from New England in the
preseason, suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return ...
Both teams alternated sweeping the season series in each of the last five
seasons, with the Panthers taking both meetings in 2013 ... Jovorskie Lane had
54-yard run in the setback ... Martin had nine rushes for nine yards ... The
Panthers had an advantage with time of possession, 35:12-24:48.