The Buccaneers didn’t have a lot to play for today, having already clinched the NFC South and knowing they’d be hosting a playoff game next week. But coach Bruce Arians said they would play to win, and they did.
Although the Panthers were game early on, the Bucs took control in the second half and coasted to a comfortable 41-17 win.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had an excellent game, throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, while Rob Gronkowski was his favorite receiver with seven catches for 137 yards, and Mike Evans added six catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers got a solid if not spectacular game from Sam Darnold, but it wasn’t near.y enough to keep pace with the Bucs’ offense.
Carolina’s season ends with a 5-12 record, a disappointing finish in Matt Rhule’s second season. They need to make major changes this offseason, starting with finding themselves a better quarterback than Darnold.
The Bucs, who improved to 13-4, have the quarterback they need, and they look like strong contenders to win their second consecutive Super Bowl.