I just had an amazing battle with Blaza and the Panthers, in a game that could be a contender for Game of the Week. It was a back and forth heavyweight fight between 2 bitter division rivals, and it came down to the final possession. First drive of the game, Carolina got it out to midfield by using a mix of quick hits and runs to the outside. Then Cam Newton connected with Greg Olsen down the seem for a 45 yd bomb. It appeared the saftey had a chance to make a play on the ball but he was just a step too late. Newton threw a perfect bullet between the LB and S for the TD. Tampa's opening drive started out nicely. With a heavy dose of Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount, Tampa tried to establish the run. However, Carolina's front 4 were stout. Anything between the tackles was shut down with minimal yardage. This would be the story all game long. QB Josh Freeman connected on a couple of nice passes to Vincent Jackson, and got the ball into the Red Zone. However, on a second down play, Freeman also tried going to his TE Clark down the seam. Looked like Clark had a step on the defender, but instead of laying it out there nicely, Freeman's pass was low and on a rope. The LB made a nice play on the ball for the interception at the goalline. Carolina again went down the field on their 2nd possession.. this time relatively easy and scored to go up 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter. Tampa Bay finally answered and got on the board by going to the air attack on their 2nd offensive possession. Blount finished the drive with a 4 yd TD run off the right tackle. Tampa finally made a stop on defense and Carolina had to punt for the first time in the game. Tampa took over with about 4 min. to go in the half. They went down the field, still trying to mix in some runs on the ground. They got it down into the Red Zone again, and it appeared that Carolina was going to make a stop and hold Tampa to a field goal, but Freeman found Vincent Jackson wide open in the endzone on a nice in & out route. Both teams punted on their next possessions, and Tampa was able to down their punt at the 7, with :20 left in the half. First play, Newton was sacked, mainly due to nice downfield coverage. Tampa called their first TO. The next play was a run up the middle. Got stuffed and Tampa called their 2nd TO. 3rd down was a nice run to the left outside, and took some valuable seconds off the clock. Tampa stopped him about 2 yds short and called their last TO with :5 left. Here's where things get a little wacky.. the punt was shanked.. it appeared maybe the Kicker was in to punt, I dunno.. but it was shanked and went out of bounds at the 37 with :1 left on the clock. Tampa called on their new FA kicker, David Buehler, and he hit a 54 yd FG with plenty of room to spare, to give Tampa the lead 17-14 @ half. Second half was still back and forth, much like the first, but with a little more defense. Fast forward to 4:00 to go in the 4th... Score is tied 24-24, and Tampa finally starts to put a drive together in the 4th quarter. Carolina's defense didn't give up much on the ground, and appeard they were going to get the ball back a couple of times on this drive. But Freeman made a number of key 3rd down conversions to keep the drive, and clock moving. Freeman connected with Dallas Clark down the seam, put the ball in a very small window, and Clark took a big hit in the endzone but held on to the ball for a TD with about 2:30 to play. It was all up to the defense now to seal the victory.. but the lead would not last long.. On the 2nd play of the insuing Carolina drive, Cam Newton hit Brandon Lafell over the middle. The saftey gambled.. went for the ball and came up empty. He got a hand on Lafell after the catch and slowed him up, but Lafell broke the tackle, the defender fell to the ground, causing the other 2 defenders in pursuit to trip and fall over him, and LaFell was long gone after that. 31-30 with the extra point to come.. or so I thought. Carolina breaks the huddle.. what's this?! They're going for 2 and the win?!! Totally caught me off guard and had to audible out. Didn't want to waste a TO right now because there were still over 2 min to go. So I audibled out.. got my guys set up just in time of the snap.. Newton hands off to the FB!... no its a fake! Newton pitches left, the RE gets off his block just in time, the CB also reads it and rushes in, and they both hit Williams in the backfield on the 2pt try. Gutsy call there, and I tip my hat to Blaza for that one. I like it. So with just over 2 to go, Tampa takes over with now just a 1 pt lead. Carolina still has 2 TOs, so I still have to be somewhat aggressive here. First play obviously was a run, to make him burn a TO. 2nd play, I went for a quick slant.. I hit it and got the first down at the 2 Minute Warning. Next play was a run.. minimal yardage. Panthers call last TO. 2nd down, I run wide left to milk every possible second I could. It gets 3-4 yds. 3rd and 6, clock running with 1:00 to go, I pull off one of my most boneheaded plays ever. Mike Martz would be prould of me for this.. I go for the win right then & there by going playaction, bootleg right.. Dallas Clark had a step on the defender on a corner route but Freeman threw it on the run, and it was off and a bit behind him. The linebacker made a great fingertip interception. Carolina gets one last shot at it, from their own 40 yd line with :35 to go. First play, Newton tries to find Greg Olsen on a deep corner route, similar to the play I just ran, but Aquib Talib jumped it and made a nice interception to seal the 1 point win. Sorry for the long essay i just wrote lol, but I'm a little amped up after this. This was a great game that either team/player could've won. Blaza is a good player and I can't wait for the rematch in Carolina!