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CAROLINA 12, TAMPA BAY 9 (OT)

Panthers Pull Off Blockbuster

September 15, 2003|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — With Tampa Bay lining up to kick an extra point with no time on the clock, the Carolina Panthers easily could have hung their heads and accepted defeat.

The Buccaneers knew they wouldn't.

"It's never over. We fight to the end," Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said after Kris Jenkins blocked what would have been a game-winning conversion by Martin Gramatica. That set the stage for the Panthers to beat the Super Bowl champions, 12-9, in overtime Sunday.

"We knew they had to go out and make the extra point. We blocked two kicks prior to that, so we thought: 'Hey, we've got a chance.' "

John Kasay's fourth field goal, a 47-yard kick with 3 minutes 28 seconds remaining in the extra period, capped a wild final few minutes.

The Buccaneers had tied the score with no time left in regulation on Keenan McCardell's six-yard reception.

Considering Gramatica had never missed an extra point in his career (129 attempts), the conversion seemed a formality.

Jenkins had other ideas.

"I went in and blocked it. I don't think it was rocket science or anything," said Jenkins, who also knocked down a 38-yard field-goal try in the second quarter. "It was now or never. We didn't have a choice. Somebody had to get it."

Stephen Davis rushed for 142 yards and Kasay also kicked field goals of 28, 35 and 20 yards.

Carolina (2-0) set up Kasay's game-winner with Steve Smith's 52-yard punt return to the Tampa Bay 40.

Last week, the Panthers blocked a punt for a safety and blocked a 55-yard field-goal try to preserve a 24-23 victory over Jacksonville.

Six days after opening the season with a dominating 17-0 victory over Philadelphia in a rematch of last season's NFC championship game, the Buccaneers (1-1) looked flat.

Tampa Bay self-destructed with frequent mistakes, including 17 penalties for 168 yards.

"We all ate some humble pie today," end Simeon Rice said. "We've got to put everything in front of us, understand what it is. It's just one game."

The Panthers, who overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to win their opener, this time overcame 16 penalties for 120 yards.

Jake Delhomme completed nine of 23 passes for 96 yards in his third pro start. He was sacked twice and had two passes intercepted, including one by Brian Kelly that set up Gramatica's 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Brad Johnson completed 34 of a career-high 61 passes for 339 yards. He was sacked once and had one pass intercepted.

Keyshawn Johnson led the Buccaneers with nine receptions for 102 yards but dropped a leaping try in the end zone with 19 seconds left in regulation.

Brad Johnson found McCardell for the tying touchdown two plays later.

"Last year, we were 1-1 at this point and went to the Super Bowl," Keyshawn Johnson said.

"There's no panic setting in for us. We just have to evaluate where we are at and what we did that was wrong out there and try to make the corrections."

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