Final

Panthers 10

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Buccaneers 16

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:25 PM ET, September 9, 2012

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 0 0 7 310
TB 10 3 0 316

Top Performers

Passing: C. Newton (CAR) - 303 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: D. Martin (TB) - 24 CAR, 95 YDS

Receiving: S. Smith (CAR) - 7 REC, 106 YDS

Bucs pick off Cam Newton twice, take down Panthers

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- It was just like old times for Ronde Barber.

Tampa Bay's defense swarmed, the opposing quarterback squirmed, and the Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers 16-10 in their debut under coach Greg Schiano on Sunday.

The lone holdover from the Bucs' Super Bowl champion of 10 years ago had an interception, sack and key stop on Cam Newton as a defense that allowed an NFL-worst 494 points contained the Carolina star to stop a 10-game losing streak that prompted the firing of former coach Raheem Morris.

"This was fun to watch this defense go out and play the way they played," Barber said on a day he was honored for making his 200th consecutive start.

"I don't think anybody really knew what we were going to get. We had one real good showing in the preseason against New England. I don't think I even knew how it would translate to Sundays. Today, the way we played is something to be proud of," Barber added. "My individual performance was just a reflection of the way the defense played as a whole."

Schiano came to Tampa Bay after spending 11 seasons transforming Rutgers from one of the losingest programs in college football into a Big East contender.

The new Bucs defense is similar to one the coach ran with the Scarlet Knights and -- for at least one game -- produced the type of results that reminded Barber of some of the units he played on earlier in his career.

"It felt like old times, when we were a great defense back in the day, when guys played so fast," Barber said. "You turned the film on and people would say, this film is sped up, it can't possibly be this fast. That's what it felt like out there. They have some very talented players, and we swarmed on them all day long, and kept Cam in check."

Newton threw for 303 yards and one touchdown. But the Panthers were shut out in the first half, and the interceptions he threw thwarted Carolina's chances of overcoming the slow start.

"They showed us some different things that we didn't have a chance to prepare for," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.

"We made some adjustments in the second half and controlled the ball and moved the ball pretty well. Unfortunately, we had the big turnovers."

Josh Freeman threw a 6-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass, and Connor Barth kicked field goals of 36, 20 and 40 yards for Tampa Bay, the latter set up by a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Bucs held the Panthers to 10 yards rushing, with Newton gaining 4 yards on five carriers and DeAngelo Williams managing minus-1 on six attempts.

"It's all about the players, their commitment to doing what we ask them to do," Schiano said of the defense, adding that another key was Tampa Bay's offense had a 15-minute edge in time of possession.

"That's critical when you keep No. 1 off the field," Schiano said, referring to Newton's jersey number. "The best way to defend him is not have to defend him."

Replacement officials appeared to do just fine. Tampa Bay requested the only replay challenge, on a 16-yard, sideline reception by Carolina's Steve Smith in the second quarter, and the ruling on the field that the receiver got both feet inbounds, was upheld.

Freeman completed his first eight passes, making use of three of the newcomers brought in to help him after the Bucs ranked 30th in rushing offense and 27th in points scored last season.

Rookie Doug Martin ran five times for 21 yards and caught a pass for 11 yards and receiver Vincent Jackson had a 7-yard reception on third-and-2 to set up Tampa Bay's only touchdown. Tight end Dallas Clark gained 33 on his first catch as a Buc, leading to Barth's 36-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

Carolina outscored the Bucs 86-35 in a pair of lopsided victories last December, with Newton throwing for four touchdowns and running for four more in the two games.

Newton threw for a league rookie record 4,051 yards and also set a single-season mark for rushing TDs by a quarterback, while accounting for 35 touchdowns -- 21 passing and 14 on the ground. He threw a 22-yard TD pass to Brandon LaFell on Carolina's first possession of the second half, but couldn't get his team into the end zone again.

A late Panthers drive stalled at the Bucs 3, where they settled for Justin Medlock's 21-yard field goal, trimming Tampa Bay's lead to 16-10 with 2:46 remaining. But the Carolina defense unable to get the ball out, with Freeman running out the clock with help from Martin, who finished with 95 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Newton completed 23 of 33 passes. Ahmad Black had Tampa Bay's interception, picking a throw intended for Steve Smith, who had seven receptions for 106 yards.

"You can't win with turnovers," Newton said. "Without any of those interceptions, I think we find a way to win this football game."

Game notes


The Panthers flew to Florida four days early to prepare for the game in nearby Bradenton because the Democratic National Convention was scheduled to use Bank of America Stadium, which is adjacent to the team's practice fields. ... Barber is making the transition from cornerback to safety in his 16th season. Although he spent most of the game at safety, he actually started at cornerback because Tampa Bay opened the game in a nickel package.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CAR
TB
1st Downs1618
Passing 1st downs
148
Rushing 1st downs
18
1st downs from Penalties
12
3rd down efficiency
2-105-14
4th down efficiency
0-00-0
Total Plays4962
Total Yards301258
Yards per play6.14.2
Total Drives1011
Passing291128
Comp - Att
23-3316-24
Yards per pass
8.85.3
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks - Yards Lost
3-122-10
Rushing10130
Rushing Attempts
1336
Yards per rush
0.83.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-11-3
Penalties6-654-35
Turnovers20
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession22:3337:27

Passing Leaders

CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Newton23/333039.2123-12
TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Freeman16/241385.8102-10

Rushing Leaders

CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pilares155.005
Newton540.804
TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Martin24954.0015
Ware2147.008

Receiving Leaders

CARRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Smith710615.103211
LaFell36521.71245
TBRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Jackson44711.802110
Clark13333.00331

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCARTB
tbTD05:20Mike Williams 6 Yd Pass From Josh Freeman (Connor Barth Kick) 07
tbFG01:20Connor Barth 36 Yd 010
SECOND QUARTERCARTB
tbFG02:55Connor Barth 20 Yd 013
THIRD QUARTERCARTB
carTD08:55Brandon LaFell 22 Yd Pass From Cam Newton (Justin Medlock Kick) 713
FOURTH QUARTERCARTB
tbFG07:58Connor Barth 40 Yd 716
carFG02:46Justin Medlock 21 Yd 1016

Research Notes

Doug Martin gained 55 of his 95 (57.9 percent) yards after contact on Sunday. Since the start of 2010, 52.3 percent of the Buccaneers rush yards have come after contact, which is the best percentage in the NFL. At Boise State last year, Martin gained 58 percent of his yard after contact and averaged 2.9 yards after contact per rush, so he should bolster an already strong running game.

ESPN Stats & Information