TAMPA — The Bucs scored 10 points off a pair of Carolina turnovers, taking a 17-7 lead over the Panthers into the locker room at halftime.
They took a 10-point lead into the half on quarterback Jameis Winston's 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin in the right corner of the end zone with 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
With the pass, Winston broke Josh Freeman's franchise record for career touchdown passes with his 81st pass of his career.
The score came after cornerback Javien Elliott intercepted Carolina quarterback Cam Newton in the red zone, the Bucs second interception of the game and their fourth over the past two games after having just one interception over the first 10 games of the season.
Winston continues to play turnover-free football, throwing for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 12-for-16 passing in the first half.
The lead could be greater but the Bucs committed a costly turnover inside the Panthers' one-yard line in the second quarter as running back Peyton Barber lost the ball attempting to extend his arm over the goal line.
The Bucs took the first lead of the game on Jameis Winston's three-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries, capping a 75-yard scoring drive that included 27 rushing yards from running back Peyton Barber.
Humphries logged his fifth receiving touchdown of the season, setting a new career-high. Three of his touchdowns catches this season have been against the Panthers.
Tampa Bay also took advantage of an early takeaway when Cairo Santos his a 35-yard field goal following Andrew Adams' interception of Cam Newton.
On the play, outside linebacker Lavonte David deflected Newton's pass intended for D.J. Moore into the air, where Adams corralled the ball and returned it 16 yards to the Carolina 20.
The Panthers came within three with a quick touchdown 72-yard touchdown drive capped by a eight-yard touchdown pass into the flat to Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey's 53-yard run down the left sideline was the key play to that drive.
The Bucs drove to the Carolina 4-yard line before the Barber fumbles reaching into the end zone. The play was confirmed after a replay review.
Newton drove the Panthers into the red zone late in the half, but Elliott intercepted Newton at the 18, returning the ball 50 yards to the Carolina 32.
McCaffrey has been a thorn for the Bucs. He has 105 total yards in the first half, recording 13.1 yards per touch.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.