Final

Buccaneers 20

(2-0, 1-0 away)

Panthers 7

(0-2, 0-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 19, 2010

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 7 7 3 320
CAR 0 7 0 07

Top Performers

Passing: J. Freeman (TB) - 178 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: D. Williams (CAR) - 17 CAR, 54 YDS

Receiving: K. Winslow (TB) - 4 REC, 83 YDS

Buccaneers off to 2-0 start as Panthers pull QB Matt Moore for Jimmy Clausen

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked poised and mature, nothing like that bumbling, youthful team from a year ago that started 0-7.

The Carolina Panthers played that role in a performance so inept they might be ready to truly start over with their own rookie quarterback, Jimmy Clausen.

Returning to the site of the worst game in his brief pro career, Freeman threw for 178 yards and two touchdown passes in Tampa Bay's 20-7 win on Sunday that produced a full-blown quarterback controversy for Carolina and gave the Buccaneers their first 2-0 start in five years.

"We're not really worried about what people are saying," said Freeman who took over last year as a rookie in Tampa Bay's 3-13 season. "It's a great feeling."

Nine months removed from his five-interception nightmare against Carolina, Freeman and the Bucs were turnover-free. The miscues were made by the Panthers (0-2), who couldn't move the ball as Matt Moore had two more turnovers and was benched for Clausen in the fourth quarter.

Coach John Fox said it's "way too early" to say who will start at quarterback next week against Cincinnati, with Carolina in danger of its second straight 0-3 start with Fox in the final year of his contract.

"Matt has not been benched by any stretch," Fox said. "We'll go with whoever gives us the best chance to win next week and that will take some time."

Moore, who has committed six turnovers and produced two touchdowns in two games, said he can't "put my finger on" what's gone wrong after he threw eight TD passes and one interception in a 4-1 finish last season that earned Jake Delhomme a ticket out of town.

"I don't know what the biggest difference is," said Moore, who was booed in the first quarter, had trouble finding receivers and completed just 6 of 16 passes for 125 yards. It included a 37-yard TD to Steve Smith, Carolina's only reliable receiver.

Clausen completed that many passes on his first drive, but it ended with Jonathan Stewart stuffed shy of the goal line with Carolina trailing 20-7. Clausen was later picked off by Aqib Talib, in his first game back from suspension, and finished 7 of 13 for 59 yards.

"We just have to keep getting better," Clausen said.

The sturdy, elusive, 6-foot-6 Freeman has done just that despite still recovering from a broken right thumb. He threw touchdown passes to Earnest Graham and rookie Mike Williams, and also scrambled for 43 yards on four carries for the Bucs, whose rebuilding process may be ahead of schedule.

After beating Cleveland with a solid second-half defensive effort in Week 1, Tampa Bay held Carolina's running game in check by daring Moore to throw.

"They don't have a lot in the way of threats over there at wide receiver," said cornerback Ronde Barber, who had an interception.

Freeman, who last season led Tampa Bay inside the Carolina 30 eight times but produced just six points, showed his versatility early in staking the Bucs to a 7-0 lead. After his 17-yard scramble on third-and-11, Freeman found an open Graham in the flat for a 14-yard touchdown.

Freeman was even more impressive on Tampa Bay's second TD. He eluded a sack twice on third-and-long, then threw a bullet to Kellen Winslow, playing despite a sore knee, for a 40-yard gain. On the next play, he threw a 35-yard, catch-and-run TD to Williams to put Tampa Bay ahead 14-7 midway through the second quarter.

That would be all the Bucs would need in a matchup of the NFL's youngest teams.

It didn't take long for the crowd, sitting in 90-degree heat, to grow restless with Moore. Clausen, the second-round pick and former Notre Dame star, trotted on the field with 10:03 left to loud cheers one possession after Moore fumbled on a sack.

"To be honest, I really wasn't paying attention," Clausen said of the crowd reaction.

The Bucs, who had allowed 299, 267 and 157 yards rushing to Carolina in the previous three meetings limited DeAngelo Williams (54 yards) and Stewart (43 yards) to mediocre performances.

"We've just got a bunch of guys that don't care what people think about them," Barber said. "We're young, we know we're young and that nobody has any expectations for us. [Coach] Raheem [Morris] has done a great job of preaching what this team is and what our identity is going to be."

Game notes


The Panthers went 2 for 3 on fourth-down conversions. ... Panthers rookie WR David Gettis got the start ahead of Dwayne Jarrett with Brandon LaFell (hamstring) sidelined. ... Bucs WR Micheal Spurlock threw an incomplete pass that was nearly intercepted on a first-quarter trick play. ... Jeremy Zuttah rotated some with Bucs LG Keydrick Vincent.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
CAR
1st Downs1416
Passing 1st downs
710
Rushing 1st downs
56
1st downs from penalties
20
3rd down efficiency
6-145-16
4th down efficiency
0-03-4
Total Plays5966
Total Yards273278
Yards per play4.64.2
Total Drives1111
Passing178159
Comp-Att
12-2513-29
Yards per pass
7.14.8
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-04-25
Rushing95119
Rushing Attempts
3433
Yards per rush
2.83.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-30-1
Penalties4-304-48
Turnovers03
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
02
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession30:4929:11

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Freeman12/241787.4200-0
Spurlock0/100.0000-0
CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Moore6/161257.8114-25
Clausen7/13594.5010-0

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams27511.908
Freeman44310.8017
CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams17543.2011
Stewart8435.4019

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Winslow48320.8040
Williams25427.0135
CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith Sr.36622.0137
Rosario34715.7026

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBCAR
tbTD7:17Earnest Graham 14 Yard Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 54 yds, 3:59
70
SECOND QUARTERTBCAR
carTD11:52Steve Smith 37 Yard Pass From Matt Moore (John Kasay Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 88 yds, 2:36
77
tbTD7:51Mike Williams 35 Yard Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 4:00
147
THIRD QUARTERTBCAR
tbFG7:48Connor Barth 24 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 19 yds, 3:09
177
FOURTH QUARTERTBCAR
tbFG14:49Connor Barth 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 50 yds, 4:51
207