We survived another Thursday night football matchup but it wasn’t easy. The Buccaneers hosted the Panthers in an NFC South showdown that started slowly. After each team had one possession and just as the Bucs stopped QB Cam Newton and the Panthers on fourth down, the nasty weather caused a nearly 30-minute delay. When both teams returned to the field, the teams traded field goals but big plays were not there to be found.
As the first half neared an end, the Buccaneers woke up as QB Jameis Winston found WR Chris Godwin (8/121/1) streaking towards the end zone for a 20-yard score, giving Tampa a 10-6 lead. Carolina added a field goal to draw within one point before halftime.
After more field goals, Tampa Bay regained the lead on an impressive touchdown drive, fueled by a 24-yarder to Godwin before RB Peyton Barber (23/82/1) ran the ball straight up the middle for a 16-yard score, giving the Bucs a 17-12 lead. A Barber run attempt out of the end zone later led to a safety and cut the Tampa lead to just three, but the offense couldn’t capitalize as Newton overthrew his target after being pressured on fourth down. Tampa added another field goal and Carolina and Newton had one more chance, taking possession just before the two-minute warning and trailing by six points.
The Panthers' best drive of the game by far came up just short as they failed on a fourth-down play from the two-yard line. RB Christian McCaffrey took the wildcat snap and faked a pitch but couldn’t quite get to the spot. That capped off a frustrating night for CMC, who was limited to 53 total yards on 18 touches after going over 200 total yards last week. That did it and the Buccaneers earned their first win of the season, 20-14.
While Winston had a few highlight throws and Newton connected with TE Greg Olsen (6/110) on a pair of deep passes, this game was a battle of poor quarterback play. At this point, most are aware of Winston’s overall struggles and while he started poorly, he played a much better game than a week ago. Winston protected the ball, not throwing an interception or losing a fumble, which is a rarity. Winston finished with just over 200 passing yards and a touchdown pass.
Newton on the other hand, was almost painful to watch. You might remember how strained and awkward Newton’s throwing motion was late last season when every throw was an adventure. We are right back to that same situation with Newton making labored and most importantly, inaccurate throws.
WR D.J. Moore caught nine passes for 89 yards, while WR Curtis Samuel hauled in five balls for 91 yards. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans had his second straight subpar game, catching for passes for 61 yards. TE O.J. Howard was a popular breakout candidate this year but was not even targeted in this game.
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Darnold Under the Weather
In a major Thursday morning surprise, Jets HC Adam Gase announced that starting QB Sam Darnold would miss this week’s Monday night matchup against the Browns due to a case of mono. Gase later added that the illness could cost Darnold multiple games. With a Week Four bye, it makes sense that we should not expect to see Darnold again until October. The Jets will now start QB Trevor Siemian, which obviously downgrades all Jets playmakers, especially deep threat WR Robby Anderson.
Already sitting at the bottom of the AFC East after allowing the Bills to get the comeback victory in Week One, the Jets face a tough road without their leader. The Jets visit the Browns this week before hosting the Patriots. Following their Week Four bye, it’s a series of tough tests, including the Eagles, Cowboys, Patriots again and Jaguars. It is conceivable the Jets and Dolphins each enter their Week Nine matchup winless.
The Jets had a rough day Thursday. Along with missing their quarterback, RB Le’Veon Bell required an MRI on his shoulder. Fortunately, the testing showed no major damage. Bell is still expected to suit up this week, but this could be a situation to watch moving forward. … Chargers WR Mike Williams left last week’s game with a knee injury and has remained sidelined at practice. It would be a surprise if he were able to play this week. … For the second straight day, Bengals RB Joe Mixon was unable to fully practice. He’s in danger of missing Week Two and will need to be monitored on Friday. … Redskins RB Derrius Guice underwent surgery to repair his torn meniscus and will be out indefinitely.
Other Injury News
Buccaneers rookie LB Devin White left the Thursday night game with a knee injury and was quickly ruled out. … WR Tyler Lockett (back) got in a limited practice and is on track to play in Week Two…Bears TE Trey Burton (groin) was again limited in practice. … Steelers stars RB James Conner (illness) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (toe) both practiced in full … Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) practiced and is expected to play in Week Two…Vikings WR Stefon Diggs is not on the Week Two injury report … Ravens RB Mark Ingram (shoulder) fully practiced while rookie WR Marquise Brown (hip) was limited, though both are expected to play this week … Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) was limited in practice but is in no danger of missing this week’s game, while his teammate WR Keke Coutee (ankle) is practicing in full and expected to make his 2019 debut this week … Jaguars QB Nick Foles (collarbone) is targeting a Week 11 return … The Giants were without WRs Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Cody Latimer (calf) at practice … There is optimism that Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) could play in Week Two … The Vikings placed WR Josh Doctson (leg) on injured reserve.