<
>

Panthers block PAT to force OT

9/14/2003

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- With Tampa Bay lining up to kick an extra
point with no time on the clock, the Carolina Panthers easily could
have hung their heads and accepted defeat.

Question on the Panthers: How important was it for the Panthers to start the season with two close games?

It's very important for them to open up this season with two wins after last seasons' close losses. These types of victories will breed confidence in a young team.

Question on the Bucs: How is Gruden going to work around the Bucs' rushing woes this year?
Everyone talks about Jon's West Coast offense, but he's a firm believer in the running game. He has to find someone who can rush the ball consistently for this team. Right now, no one seems to consistently be able to move the ball and that's a big problem for this team.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The Buccaneers knew they wouldn't.

"It's never over. We fight to the end," Carolina defensive
tackle Brentson Buckner said after Kris Jenkins blocked what would
have been a game-winning conversion by Martin Gramatica. That set
the stage for the Panthers to beat the Super Bowl champions 12-9 in
overtime Sunday.

"We knew they had to go out and make the extra point. We
blocked two kicks prior to that, so we thought: `Hey, we've got a
chance. ... By the grace of God we blocked it."

John Kasay's fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with 3:28 remaining
in the extra period, capped a wild final few minutes.

The Bucs had tied it with no time left in regulation on Keenan
McCardell's 6-yard reception. Considering Gramatica never missed an
extra point in his career (129 attempts), the conversion seemed a
formality.

Jenkins had other ideas.

"I went in and blocked it. I don't think it was rocket science
or anything," said Jenkins, who also knocked down a 38-yard field
goal try in the second quarter. "It was now or never. We didn't
have a choice. Somebody had to get it."

Stephen Davis rushed for 142 yards and Kasay also kicked field
goals of 28, 35 and 20 yards for Carolina (2-0), which set up
Kasay's game-winner with Steve Smith's 52-yard punt return to the
Tampa Bay 40.

Last week, the Panthers also blocked a punt for a safety and
blocked a 55-yard field goal attempt to save a 24-23 win over
Jacksonville.

Six days after opening the season with a dominating 17-0 victory
over Philadelphia in a rematch of last season's NFC championship
game, the Bucs (1-1) looked flat. They self-destructed with
frequent mistakes, including 17 penalties for 168 yards.

"We all ate some humble pie today," Bucs defensive end Simeon
Rice said. "We've got to put everything in front of us, understand
what it is. It's just one game."

Trailing 9-3, the Bucs drove 82 yards in 10 plays to tie it on
Brad Johnson's 6-yard pass to McCardell, who got both feet in
bounds before falling out of the end zone.

The Panthers, who overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to win
their opener, this time overcame 16 penalties for 120 yards. After
Smith's punt return up the right sideline, Davis ran for 10 yards
to the Tampa Bay 30.

Four plays later, Kasay kicked his game-winner.

Jake Delhomme, who came off the bench to lead Carolina's
comeback against the Jaguars, was 9-of-23 for 96 yards in his third
pro start. He was sacked twice and threw two interceptions,
including Brian Kelly's pick that set up Gramatica's 41-yarder late
in the third quarter.

Tampa Bay opened with a dominating performance against
Philadelphia. It began the day with a chance to become the first
team in more than 25 years to shut out three consecutive
regular-season opponents.

Kasay's first field goal ended a stretch of 11 straight
scoreless quarters for the Bucs' defense. Al Wallace returned an
interception 53 yards to set up another field goal for a 6-0
halftime lead.

The Bucs outgained the Panthers 190-107 up to that point. But
the defending champions hurt themselves with five costly penalties.

The sloppy play continued in the second half, with Tampa Bay
being penalized seven times for 70 yards in the third quarter.

Johnson completed 34 of a career-high 61 passes for 339 yards.
He was sacked once and threw one interception. Keyshawn Johnson led
the Bucs with nine receptions for 102 yards, but dropped a leaping
try in the end zone with 19 seconds left in regulation.

Brad Johnson found McCardell for the game-tying TD two plays
later.

"Last year, we were 1-1 at this point and went to the Super
Bowl," Keyshawn Johnson said. "There's no panic setting in for
us. We just have to evaluate where we are at and what we did that
was wrong out there and try to make the corrections."

Game notes
Carolina was 1-5 in the NFC South last year, with its only
division win in the season finale against New Orleans. ... Davis,
who rushed for 111 yards against Jacksonville last week, became the
first Panthers runner to have multiple 100-yard games in a season
since Tshimanga Biakabutuka in 1999. ... Tampa Bay receiver Joe Jurevicius sprained his right knee late in the third quarter and
did not return. ... The Bucs had at least one sack and one
interception for the 43rd straight game, the longest such streak in
the last 40 years.