Bucs drop fourth straight, 17-3, to Carolina
Tampa Bay's offense disappeared Sunday, and the Bucs lost their fourth straight game, dropping to 2-5 with a 17-3 loss to Carolina at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs went without an offensive touchdown for the first time in 39 games with Jameis Winston as quarterback. It was only the second time Winston has played a full game and didn't account for a touchdown himself. The last time the Bucs dropped four in a row was the end of 2015, when Lovie Smith was fired.
Tampa Bay was within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but Winston was hit as he threw and his pass was intercepted by Carolina's Mike Adams. On the ensuing drive, Cam Newton rushed for 20 yards, then threw a 25-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin on third-and-16.
Winston had three turnovers -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. After topping 400 yards in three straight games, the Bucs offense struggled to move the ball consistently. They had only 196 yards when Carolina (5-3) went up 17-3 midway through the fourth.
Tampa Bay got a spark in the third quarter on a diving interception by Chris Conte. After the teams traded punts, the Bucs got their only points, on a 41-yard Patrick Murray field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.
The Bucs trailed 10-0 at halftime, shut out in the first half for the second time in three games. Tampa Bay has zero touchdowns and only two field goals in the first half of their last three.
The Bucs defense, missing both starting cornerbacks due to injuries, held up well against Carolina. The Panthers went 5-for-5 on one touchdown drive, ended with a 1-yard Jonathan Stewart run, but otherwise held Carolina to 2-for-11 on third downs.
The Bucs got the ball at their 8-yard line with 2:56 to go and took only 16 seconds off the clock, punting the ball back to Carolina. Newton connected with rookie Christian McCaffrey on three straight completions, but the Bucs defense held in the red zone. Graham Gano's 28-yard field goal made it 10-0 at the half.