Panthers blow fourth-quarter lead, officially eliminated with loss to Tampa Bay
In a must-win game for Carolina, last week’s injury loss of cornerback Jaycee Horn proved to be too much to overcome.
TAMPA BAY, FLA. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers were officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a must-win game.
Despite holding a 21-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers (6-10) allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter and Tampa Bay (8-8) won the NFC South with a 30-24 victory.
In a must-win game for Carolina, last week’s injury loss of cornerback Jaycee Horn proved to be too much to overcome as Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans hauled in 207 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for 432 yards against starting cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor, the fourth most ever by a QB against the Panthers.
Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns but had an interception and lost a key fumble late in the fourth quarter.
The win is heartbreaking for the Panthers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2017. After a 1-4 start to the season that led to the firing of head coach Matt Rhule, interim head coach Steve Wilks helped put Carolina back in playoff contention thanks to a weak division.
The Panthers still had a chance to win with 1:04 remaining in the game after kicker Eddy Pineiro hit a 49-yard field goal to make it 30-24 but the Buccaneers held on thanks to a saved punt that kept the Panthers out of better field position.
Carolina will travel to face the New Orleans Saints in the final game of the year next Sunday.
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