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Bucs lose to Panthers, fall to 0-7

TAMPA — The Buccaneers now have it on bruise control, collecting welts and wallops from every team they play as they careen through the schedule to loss after loss after loss.

Before a national television audience on the NFL Network on Thursday night, the Bucs fell to the Panthers and their freakishly talented quarterback, Cam Newton, 31-13.

The defeat, their 12th in the past 13 games dating to last season, dropped the Bucs to 0-7 for only the sixth time in club history and likely turned up the flames under the seat of coach Greg Schiano.

By the fourth quarter, the smattering of fans who remained at Raymond James Stadium booed lustily and chanted "Fire Schiano." One sign read, "Schiano is the MRSA." Another read, "I want my money back."

But Schiano, who might be watching the sand run out of his hourglass in the NFL, remains unbowed.

"It doesn't affect me," Schiano said. "People are certainly entitled to their opinion. Here's the thing: My whole career, player and a coach, I get up in the morning and work as hard and as long as I can; usually puts you to bed tired, and you get up and do it again. You do it the best you can. Our players and coaches stick together. Sometimes, it doesn't go your way."

Glennon attempted 51 passes, completing 30 for 275 yards and a touchdown to rookie tight end Tim Wright long after the issue was decided with. (The Bucs reached the red zone for the first time in the game during the drive.)

So desperate were the Bucs, they went for it on fourth and 10 at their 16 with 7:57 left in the game. Glennon fired incomplete.

Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, who held receiver Steve Smith to four catches for 42 yards, was nearly at a loss for words after the game.

"This is as low as you can get right now; 0-7," he said. "I don't even know what to say."

Unlike several close losses, the Bucs were not competitive Thursday. Glennon was victimized by dropped passes again in the first quarter. Vincent Jackson butterfingered a slant pass on third down that would've moved the sticks, and tight end Tom Crabtree failed to secure a perfect throw inside the Carolina 10 on the next possession after beating linebacker Thomas Davis.

Three low snaps by center Ted Larsen killed two drives, two resulting in aborted plays on third down. Larsen was moved back to guard and Jeremy Zuttah back to center in the second half.

"We made some critical mistakes, so it's hard to see any signs when you don't give yourself a chance to," Schiano said. "When you snap the ball low twice on third downs, when you lose contain a few times. …

"We just made some errors that will keep you from winning the game. Certainly, it falls on me."

For most of the game, Newton and the Panthers offense did whatever they wanted. They ran it downhill at will. And they threw it with precision and purpose in winning their third straight to improve to 4-3 (above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2008 season).

The third-year quarterback from Auburn passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, practically toying with the Bucs defense. He passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 50 yards and another score.

"Well, we got licked," Schiano said. "My hat is off to Carolina. They played better than we did. They coached better than we did. That was the result."

The Panthers slammed the door when Eric Page muffed a punt at the Tampa Bay 29 with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter. Four plays later, Newton flipped a 3-yard pass to fullback Mike Tolbert for a touchdown and a 28-6 lead.

Tampa Bay played without running back Doug Martin, who tore a labrum in his left shoulder in Sunday's 31-23 loss at Atlanta. The Bucs also were without safety Dashon Goldson, who injured his knee versus the Falcons.

Not that it would've mattered if those Pro Bowl players had been on the field.

Even the once-hardened defense has gone soft as the Bucs gave up at least 31 points for the third straight game.

It won't get any easier for the Bucs, who travel to Seattle to play the NFC West-leading Seahawks Nov. 3.

"You can sit there and cry about it and feel sorry for yourself," Schiano said.

"But that ain't going to help anything."

Bucs lose to Panthers, fall to 0-7 10/24/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 1:04am]
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