Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

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

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  2. Bucs journal: Defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  3. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  4. Florida starter under center still under wraps

    College

    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  5. Jones: What Bucs need in final preseason games, more or less

    Bucs

    That's it. Let's start the season. Start it right now.

    Tom Jones wants to see less of Jameis Winston playing hot potato with the football and throwing it up for anyone to catch. [Getty Images]