The Bucs took control of the NFC South after dominating the Panthers on both sides of the ball today. The Bucs offensive line had their way with the Panther defense all day, while the Bucs defense physically dominated the Panther offense. This was a great win for the Bucs, but it came at a price as Cadillac Williams and Luke Petigout went down with knee injuries.
The Bucs normally have trouble with Carolina, especially running the ball, but this seems like a different team. The young offensive line of the Bucs got great push all day allowing them to run for 189 yards. It seemed like the Bucs runners were never hit behind the line of scrimmage and there were huge holes to run through. What may be more impressive was the fact that Luke Petigout left the game early leaving a line that had 3 second year players, 1 rookie, and 1 veteran.
Julius Peppers found out early in the game that Jeremy Trueblood is not Kenyatta Walker. He did not allow a sack to Peppers all game and pushed him backwards in the run game. The rest of the offensive line did their job as well, allowing no sacks all game. Donald Penn, who came in for Luke Petigout, also did a great job in both pass protection and run blocking. These young lineman have a nasty streak in them that has been missing from the Bucs offensive line for the past couple years.
The defense kept up their dominant play for the third straight week. The Buc secondary shut down Steve Smith and the rest of the wide outs, while the front four got after Carr and disrupted him all day. The pressure from the front four came from the inside and the outside, with everyone contributing. The Buc linebackers looked great again as well, flying to the ball and tackling everything in sight. The Bucs dominated the Panthers were denied the shut out with a late touchdown.
The win was great, but the cost was also high. Cadillac Williams went out of the game in the first quarter with what looked to be a devastating knee injury. The Bucs are calling it a sprained knee for now, but expect it to be a tear after an MRI is taken. Steve Smith, who was on the sideline right where Caddy went down, immediately motioned for the Bucs trainers when he hit the ground. Cadillac was in obvious pain and had to be carted off of the field. It was a terrible blow to the Bucs who have been much better than expected this year and are now leading the division. It looks like the Bucs will have to count on Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham to carry the load for the foreseeable future.
The Bucs looked impressive for the fourth game in a row and are now in control of the NFC South. They are a much better team than most thought going into the season and if they keep it up they will be in the playoffs at the end of the season. The Bucs will have a huge test this week when they have to travel to Indianapolis and play the defending Super Bowl Champs.