Tampa Bay - 24 Carolina - 20 This Week 11 rematch was just as good as the Week 1 matchup where Tampa Bay held on to win by 1 when Carolina elected to go for 2 and the win late in the game, and came up just short. Carolina would start out strong on the first drive of the game. On a 3rd and about 5, Carolina caught the Bucs on an overload blitz on the right side. Cam Newton got rid of it quickly and found Steve Smith cutting over the middle from the left side. The safteys overplayed it as well, and were out of position and not ready for the quick release. When Smith caught the ball, there was noone back deep, and he went the distance for an easy 65 yd romp. Tampa's opening drive started out promising, but stalled at midfield. This would be the story for most of the day. Tampa would string a couple of nice plays together and get it across midfield, but then Carolina's defense would clamp down and make a few stops. Both teams would trade FGs, and it appeared that the Panthers would take a 10-3 lead into the locker room. But following a Tampa punt with under 30 seconds remaining, Carolina still had 2 timeouts left. They were pinned inside their own 20, but they wanted another score and got aggressive. Tampa Bay sensed this. Cam Newton would then fire a corner route to Greg Olsen, but CB Johnathan Wade would get a great jump on the ball and intercept it and take it back to the house for a Pick 6 with 15 seconds remaining in the half. The ensuing kickoff would be downed and brought out to the 20. The next play, Newton would throw deep dow the left sideline to Steve Smith. Tampa Saftey Ahmad Black was there as well. Both were standing there waiting on the ball. But Black decides to not jump for it.. hell he didn't even put a single hand up. Steve Smith went up and made the catch despite a big hit. Carolina would call timeout and get a 41 yd FG that sliced just inside and around the right upright for the 13-10 lead at halftime. Tampa would get the ball first in the 2nd half but couldn't do much with it. They would punt and pin Carolina deep inside the 20 again. Cam Newton would throw 2nd INT a few plays later when CB Eric Wright made a leaping INT on the left sideline. The Bucs would then call on the big guy LeGarrette Blount, and he punched it in from 3 yds out to give Tampa their first lead of the game, 17-13 at the end of the 3rd. Cam Newton would throw a 3rd INT when Saftey Mark Barron intercepted an underthrown ball over the middle early in the 4th. Tampa got the ball inside the 5, and had a chance to step on Carolina's throats, but Josh Freeman would make an ill advised throw into traffic, and rookie CB Josh Norman would pick it off in the endzone for a touchback. With Tampa missing a golden opportunity to possibly ice the game, Carolina had new life. Newton would continue to throw through the air and get the Panthers down the field. With a 3rd and long play from inside the Tampa redzone, Newton threw an out pass to Steve Smith.. the pass was a little behind him and he had to adjust. 2 Tampa defenders converged on him at the 10. Smith would spin and juke his way free of both of them. He got hit again at the 5, but stumbled and tumbled his way into the endzone to regain the lead 20-17, with just under 4:00 to play. Josh Freeman would get his chance to avenge the bad INT he just threw a few minutes ago, and win the game with a "Coming of Age" drive. Coach Berding would even give Freeman the keys to the offense and allow him to call his own plays in the huddle. Once again, Tampa strung together a couple of nice passes and runs, and would get the ball across midfield. This time, they would hit the homerun. On 1st down at the Carolina 45, Freeman noticed the Panthers playing tight bump and run coverage. Freeman would hot route Vincent Jackson into a streak, and he beat his defender off the line and had no Saftey help over the top. Freeman calmly lobbed a pass out there and Jackson hauled it in and went in for the score to make it 24-20 with under 3:00 to go. It was a drive that kept Tampa Bay's playoff hopes alive in a very tight NFC race. But Newton had 2 timeouts and plenty of time. He would lead the Panthers down the field on a nice drive that included a big 30 yd run on a QB Option. With the ball at the 15 yd line, Tampa would make a couple of stops, including a big QB sack. Carolina would be faced with a 3rd and 8 at the 2 Minute Warning. Not sure what happened during the 2 Minute timeout, but a strange sequence of events would occur. Newton would find Greg Olsen on the 3rd down play for a gain of 5, as the Bucs were keeping everything in front of them. 4th and 3 with the game on the line and the clock ticking, Carolina couldn't get the play sent in fast enough. Newton would call their 2nd TO. Following the TO, the Panthers surprisingly lined up in FG formation! The score again was 24-20.. a FG does them no good. So unable to call back to back timeouts, Carolina had no choice but to take the Delay of Game penalty to make it 4th and 8. Carolina again took a long time to get the play in. They scrambled to the line and just got it snapped with 1 second remaining on the play clock, but it allowed Tampa to tee off on the play clock as well. Tampa came with a double Saftey Blitz up the middle and one of them got in and hit Newton as he released the ball, causing it to fall harmelessly to the ground. Turnover on Downs. Carolina still had 1 timeout left, and 1:50 to go in the game. 3 straight runs, and a 3 and out caused Tampa to punt it back to Carolina with :25 seconds to go. First play would be knocked away deep. 2nd down with 12 seconds to go, Newton hit Greg Olsen over the middle as Tampa was in full prevent defense for a 30 yd gain, but time would run out. Tampa goes to 6-4 on the year and are back on their winning ways. Not sure what happened at the 2 Minute Warning with Carolina... stay tuned for the Panthers postgame news conference. We'll go live to Bank of America Stadium when the Panthers take the podium. GG Blaza It was a fun one. Both games this season could've gone either way.