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Bucs-Panthers ready to write more history on Christmas Eve

Florida Football Insiders

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

(The Buccaneers are traveling to Carolina to play the Panthers yet, again, this time on Christmas Eve. Our resident Bucs professor of history, Paul Stewart of Bucpower.com, is back with three different famous games in the series. Click the scores for pictures and videos from his site, as well.)

THE BUCS IN CAROLINA
This will be Tampa Bay’s 18th trip to Carolina to play the Panthers dating back to their expansion season of 1995, a game that was played at Clemson Stadium. We looked at three of the best home games with the Bucs’ division rivals earlier in the year, so we now feature a trio of games played on the road.

Sunday 1 October 1995 at Memorial Stadium, University of Clemson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 Carolina Panthers 13

The arrival of the Panthers and Jaguars into the NFL brought a far more generous method in stocking the expansion franchises than the Buccaneers saw back in 1976 together with the ability to sign free agents from a zero salary cap standpoint. The result were two teams who were competitive from Day One and this Week 5 clash saw Carolina give Sam Wyche’s team all the trouble they could handle during their infamous “Five-dash-two” start to the 1995 season.

QB Trent Dilfer went out with a concussion so it was back-up Casey Weldon who came in during the first half and he scored the winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak on the first play of the 4th quarter. The game also featured punter Reggie Roby’s first NFL completion as he hit Tony Booty with a 48-yard pass on a fake punt. “(Roby) wasn’t proud of it,” joked Booty. “He needs to go to quarterback school.”

“You’ve got to drop that word `expansion,’ ” said Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson, asked about Tampa Bay’s 0-4 opponent. “Let’s just call it a team in its first year. Don’t say expansion. Expansion leads everyone to believe this team should just get wiped out by the No. 1 high school team in the nation. This was a very good team we played today.”

The Bucs and Panthers would wind up with identical 7-9 records by season end but Wyche would pay the price for a fourth straight losing season, one in which he seemingly fought the press and some players on his team on a weekly basis.

Sunday 18 November 2012 at Bank of America Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Carolina Panthers 21

Greg Schiano’s first season as Tampa Bay head coach had begun with a 16-10 home win over the Panthers on opening day and two months later, he made it a season sweep in far more dramatic circumstances.

The Bucs’ trailed by 11 with just over four minutes left in the game but a Connor Barth fieldgoal and a defensive stop gave the offense one last chance to tie the game. Josh Freeman led his team downfield, hit Vincent Jackson with a 24-yard scoring pass with 12 seconds remaining and then hit the same player again for a successful two-point conversion to take the game to overtime.

Just over four minutes into the extra period, Freeman found his veteran TE Dallas Clark from 15 yards out, a play that was eventually confirmed after replay, the first time the former Colt had ever scored a game winner in that fashion. “No, I’ve never done that before — anywhere,” said Clark, who signed as a free agent after nine seasons in Indianapolis. “And it was kind of weird, because looking at the sideline afterward, everyone was rushing onto the field, which was really fun. It was like at the end of a basketball game.”

This was the Bucs’ fourth straight win under Schiano taking them to 6-4 on the season but that would be their highpoint and they would ultimately lose their next five games before finishing the year at 7-9.

Monday 10 October 2016 at Bank of America Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 Carolina Panthers 14

It was Monday Night Football in Carolina and the Bucs were 1-3 after having won Dirk Koetter’s opening game as head coach. Without Doug Martin, Koetter turned to one of his former Atlanta players, Jacquizz Rodgers, to lead the ground game but wound up having to put his faith in his much-maligned rookie kicker, Roberto Aguayo.

The 2nd round pick had connected with a pair of first-half fieldgoals and had missed two others. The defense kept giving him chances by forcing four turnovers from a Panther team missing QB Cam Newton including a pick in the endzone by Brent Grimes to end one apparent game-winning Carolina drive.

Jameis Winston led his team 66 yards in 11 plays inside the final two minutes to set up Aguayo who potentially saved his career and the Bucs’ season by nailing the game-winner from 38 yards as time expired. “I looked up and it was going down the middle and everybody was coming at me,” Aguayo said. “For some reason, I was telling everyone, ‘We are going to get a penalty.’ But the game was over.”

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