Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs-Panthers report card: Grading the Bucs' 17-16 victory

TAMPA — The only games left at Raymond James Stadium until the fall are a less-than-exciting Outback Bowl today and a more-than-exciting college national championship game next week.

As soon as Sunday's 17-16 Bucs victory over the Panthers was complete, bulldozers started clearing the field for the colleges. Too bad they won't be back to get Ray Jay ready for some NFL playoff action.

Still, the Bucs finished 9-7 for their first winning season since 2010. Here's a report card from the finale.

Crossing the line

Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis is not known as a dirty player, but he leveled Bucs receiver Russell Shepard with a cheap shot in the fourth quarter. As Shepard was gliding across the field with the ball nowhere near him, he was blindsided by Davis. Talk all you want about the league protecting players from injuries and concussions, but players also need to have enough respect for one another to protect themselves. Playing hard is one thing. What Davis did was gutless. To Davis' credit, Shepard said after the game that he apologized to him. GRADE: F

Pound-for-pound champ

Question: Is punter Bryan Anger pound-for-pound Tampa Bay's best player? He had another sensational day with five punts for a 45.5-yard average and five downed inside the 20-yard line. No wonder the Bucs signed him to a big, fat extension. He's worth every penny, unlike the team's other kicker (more on that in a second). For as good as Anger is, no, he is not the best player on the team. Receiver Mike Evans is. His winning touchdown catch with 3:13 left was an appropriate finish to the season. GRADES: A and A

Oh, Roberto

I've tried to defend moving up in last year's draft to take kicker Roberto Aguayo out of FSU in the second round. I might have to give up and say it was a mistake. Aguayo started the season by missing half of his first eight field goals. But since then he is 18-of-23. Unfortunately, two of those misses came Sunday. One was blocked. The other was 46 yards that sailed wide. Come on, a 46-yarder? In near-perfect conditions? Gotta makes those. In a rather odd circumstance, Aguayo's longest field goal this season was only 43 yards. Even odder is how few opportunities he had to kick anything longer than that. He attempted only one field goal of 50 or more yards. That was a missed 50-yarder. What makes the draft pick bad, aside from Aguayo's struggles, is the Bucs' need for so many other things. GRADE: D

They tried

The Bucs entered the game with virtually no shot at making the playoffs. The Panthers went in eliminated. This game had every chance to be a real dog, and no one could've blamed either team for not going all out. But both teams deserve praise for their competitive play. There was chippiness, smack-talking, hard hits. The game wasn't played well, but it was played hard. It came down to the final few seconds, when Carolina went for a two-point conversion and couldn't convert. The game was — hard to believe — entertaining. The best part might have been the Bucs' kicking unit dancing around to the House of Pain song Jump Around and jacking up the crowd after Tampa Bay's go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Real emotion! GRADE: A-plus

Men in stripes

Game officials have a tough job. At all times, 22 players are running like deer and hitting like Mack trucks. It's hard enough for them to stay out of harm's way, let alone get every call right. So the last thing we'd want to do is pick on them for having a lousy game. So this is the last thing we're doing: We're picking on them for having a lousy game. Their goofed calls are too many to list here, but trust us, they had a bad day. Even the replay person seemed to miss a couple. GRADE: D

Bucs-Panthers report card: Grading the Bucs' 17-16 victory 01/01/17 [Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2017 8:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  2. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  3. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  4. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …

  5. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.