By JOHN SCHWARB
Published December 27, 2004
HIGHLIGHT-REEL PLAYS: First, it was Muhsin Muhammad's one-handed touchdown catch midway through the first quarter. Then the Bucs' Michael Clayton went airborne from the 3 for a touchdown.
TIME TO BEAT THE TRAFFIC: Okay, there were plenty of chances. But when a player wearing a number in the 90s rumbles into the end zone, it's time to head home. Lineman Kindal Moorehead's 17-yard interception return put Carolina up 37-20 with 4:41 left.
SUSTAINED DRIVES: After his first interception, Brian Griese went 6-of-6 for 70 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown to Michael Clayton, to tie the score.
WAY TO NEGATE A TURNOVER: With 4:20 left in the first half, Tampa Bay's Dwight Smith stripped Brad Hoover, recovering the fumble at the Bucs 49. But the play was erased by defensive lineman Chartric Darby lining up in the neutral zone.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: Down 14-7 near the end of the first half, a 15-yard face mask gave the Bucs a first down at the Panthers 33. After a 4-yard completion to Joey Galloway, they moved backward on a Kenyatta Walker hold and had to punt. Well, a punt would have been nice. Instead, Josh Bidwell botched the snap, and Carolina blocked the kick. After gaining 36 yards on two plays, Carolina took a 17-7 lead on John Kasay's 26-yard field goal.
ARGUMENTS FOR THE DEFENSE: Touchdown drives of 10, 10 and nine plays led by Jake Delhomme, who went 19-of-24 with no interceptions. A career-high 127 rushing yards for Nick Goings. Thirty points allowed. The word "dominant" simply no longer applies to the Bucs defense.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Carry by the Bucs' Mike Alstott, for 2 yards.
4: Kickoffs returned for 40-plus yards by the Bucs' Torrie Cox this season, including a 50-yarder Sunday.
4: Passes dropped by the Bucs.
4: Touchdown passes by Jake Delhomme, a career high.
8: Bucs receivers with a catch.
13: Bucs rushing attempts.
77: Bucs penalty yards.