Tampa Bay Buccaneers Clinch NFC South Title After Defeating Carolina Panthers 32-6
By Buccaneers.com // December 26, 2021
Buccaneers improved to 11-4 on the season
ABOVE VIDEO: Bucs vs. Panthers Postgame Press Conferences
TAMPA, FLORIDA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a new-look roster to Charlotte and came away with a new prize.
With a 32-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, which included significant contributions from former reserves, the Buccaneers clinched the 2021 NFC South title.
“Yeah, we wanted to hang three banners this year,” said Head Coach Bruce Arians, whose 2020 squad won Super Bowl LV but did so as a Wild Card team.
“We don’t have one of those division banners up there for a long time. It feels great. This is what we focused on, to win our division, and our guys did it today. I can’t be more proud of the group that did it today.”
Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for touchdowns, Tom Brady ran for 232 yards and a touchdown to Cameron Brate and the Buccaneers’ defense sacked quarterbacks Cam Newton and Sam Darnold seven times.
A defense that has gradually gotten key contributors back in the secondary surrendered just two field goals one week after limiting the Saints to three field goals in a 9-0 loss.
This marks just the third time in team history, and the first time since the beginning of 2003, that the Buccaneers have held consecutive opponents without a touchdown.
“After last week, there was a little sour taste in our mouth still,” said safety Jordan Whitehead.
“Coach [Todd] Bowles, he challenged us this week to score points on defense, challenge us to get turnovers and just play with a lot of energy. That was really the main focus today on my side, defensively. We just kind of all came together, another game of no touchdowns – that was our goal.”
The Buccaneers improved to 11-4 with the victory, marking the first time in franchise history that the team has won 11 or more games in two consecutive seasons.
The Bucs now have a 3.5-game lead over New Orleans in the division, with the Saints set to play Miami on Monday night. At best, the Saints would finish the week three games back with two to play, which is why the division is locked up.
The Buccaneers also kept pace in the top-heavy conference seeding race with the Los Angeles Rams, who beat Minnesota to improve to 11-4. The 12-3 Green Bay Packers own the top seed and the 10-4 Dallas Cowboys play on Sunday.
“It’s amazing to finally get to raise that kind of banner,” said DL Will Gholston. “I get to play with a group of guys that I love dearly and for some coaches that I really and truly care about. I’d run through a brick wall for those guys. To see everything come to fruition is amazing.”
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