Perhaps you think it should matter that Carolina was without star Cam Newton. It doesn’t.
Perhaps you think it should matter that the Panthers are off to a simply dreadful start. It doesn’t.
Perhaps you think it should matter that Roberto Aguayo missed two field goals before nailing the winner. It doesn’t.
For the Tampa Bay Bucs, 2-0 in their division, there isn’t a lot of taking away from their 17-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers Monday night. With their third-team running back in the game — Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed for 101 yards — and three strangers on their defensive line, the Bucs finally won a game that felt like it mattered.
Aguayo hit a 38-yard field goal as time ran out to provide the win. Earlier, however, the Bucs had run the ball on third-and-nine to set up another Aguayo field goal, and he missed.
“Our defense was awesome all night,” said coach Dirk Koetter. “Four turnovers off the defense, one off special teams, holding Carolina to one-for-eight on third downs, our D played a heck of a game. First half we did an awesome job stopping the run, we fell off a little bit there in the second half but a lot of guys came up big tonight and it started obviously with our defense.”
Koetter was asked how close Aguayo had to get for him to feel comfortable.
“I wasn’t comfortable,” Koetter said. “We couldn’t have got close enough.
“I am happy that he made it and that is awesome that he made it, but we can’t miss those field goals. What do you want me to say? We can’t miss those. That could have lost us the game; I’m happy that he made the other one.”
Quarterback Jameis Winston said he still believed in his friend.
“When y’all talk about struggles,” Winston said, “all I see is him kicking the game-winning field goal. Struggling, I don’t hear that. I don’t hear negatives. I just hear Roberto Aguayo kicking the game-winning field goal.
The Bucs improved to 2-3 with the win. They now have a bye week before traveling to San Francisco to play.
“It’s huge,” receiver Mike Evans said of the win. “For a lot of us, it was our first Monday Night game. We prepare for moments like this and it was big for us to get the win against a division opponent that we haven’t beaten in such a long time. I think this game will boost a lot of people’s confidence.”