for this game

Moore, Williams lead Panthers past Buccaneers

Dec 30, 2007 - 11:28 PM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Rookie Matt Moore and the Carolina Panthers put a nice cap on a disappointing season.

Moore completed 15-of-24 attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers posted a 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards on 20 carries and his two second-half TD runs helped keep Carolina (7-9) in the lead each time Tampa Bay threatened.

It was the second time in four years the Panthers have posted only seven wins and the second consecutive season that Carolina has finished out of the playoffs.

The Buccaneers (9-7), who have dropped two straight for the second time, close out the regular season as NFC South Division champions and will host the New York Giants in the wild card round of the playoffs next week.

"There's a lot of bullets you have to take," Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said. "We've already proven that we can overcome injuries. They (the team) have done a helluva job doing that. In the process we've qualified for the playoffs, won a division title and have a home game. We're excited about that."

Tampa Bay rested eight regulars including starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, who in his previous four starts against Carolina had gone 4-0.

"Would we have wanted to play our regulars and go hell-bent to win the last two games? You bet," Gruden said. "But we have overcome so many injuries, it's a great compliment to this football team.

"We got some guys some rest that really needed it and we'll see where we are next week against the Giants. If we were playing on national TV against New England at home last night we might have taken a different approach. No disrespect to Carolina, I just don't want to get into the pairing of all this stuff because it's irreverent."

Moore, who was one of four signal-callers to start for the Panthers this season, tossed two TDs in the first half to help Carolina to a 17-13 halftime lead.

"I've been preaching that this experience is so valuable," said Moore, who started the last three of the nine games he's appeared in. "Playing these last few games has been really big and hopefully it will carry over to next season. There's always room to get better but experience. Just seeing different looks is very important so it's good."

The 6-3 Moore threw a 2-yard pass to tight end Christian Fauria to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:55 left in the first period. Moore's second strike went to tight end Dante Rosario with 6:40 left in the second period to put the Panthers ahead, 14-10.

"Our protection was good all day," said Moore of the offensive line play. "The defense played really awesome and kept us in it. The D dictated the tempo of the game and our communication in the huddle was good."

After the Buccaneers took a 20-17 third-quarter lead on a 23-yard pass from Luke McCown to Michael Bennett with 5:44 left, Moore led the Panthers on a five-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Williams, helping Carolina regain a 24-20 advantage.

After a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 24-23 just 58 seconds into the fourth, Williams swept right for a 32-yard scoring jaunt to make it 31-23 with 6:24 left.

The 5-9 Williams, in his second season out of Memphis, finished 2007 with 717 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

Veteran receiver Steve Smith also caught five passes for 48 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark (1,002) for the fourth time in his seven-year career.

McCown led the Bucs down to the Carolina 27 on their next possesion but was intercepted at the 7-yard line by cornerback Richard Marshall to stop the drive.

"A play here or there it changes the game," McCown said. "Every week it's one or two plays. The interception near the end of the game, we had a drive going.

"(Running back) Kenneth Darby was open. They stacked everyone to the middle of the field and the corner made a break at the right moment. I thought I could get him the ball. This is my third game and I'm learning when to take those chances. The good thing is, it's not happening four or five times a game."

After the Buccaneers' last possesion ended on downs with 41 ticks on the clock, Panthers coach John Fox made a nice gesture by inserting 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde to take the last snap and kneel down to end the game.

"It does mean a lot," said Testaverde, who is retiring after 21 seasons in the NFL. "I'm sure one day I'll look back at all of this and appreciate it even more. I started here 21-years ago where I took my first snap in this city. Ironically enough, it's where I took my last snap. It means a lot and I've enjoyed just about every minute of it."

Moore noted that Testaverde was an invaluable presence during his rookie year.

"I'll miss him," Moore said. "Vinny and I have become really good friends and he is just a great guy, a great player and even a better person. He'll be missed definitely by a lot of guys."

McCown was 21-of-28 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Tampa Bay, which became the fifth straight team in the division to go from last place the previous season to first place the next year.






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    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 6:39 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 10 7 7 31
    TAMPA BAY 7 6 7 3 23 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, JERRAMY STEVENS 3 YD PASS FROM LUKE
    MCCOWN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 3:56.
    Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards in 3:56.
    Key plays: Pittman 3-yard run on
    3rd-and-3 to Tampa Bay 43; McCown
    52-yard pa

    Dec 30 3:56 PM
  • 87
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 34 roots (Close Finish)

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:50 PM
  • 53
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 17 roots (Close Finish)

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:44 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 32 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 31
    TAMPA BAY 23 6:24 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:39 PM
  • 36
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 26 roots (Close Finish)

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:39 PM
  • 10
    roots
    srinaldi Added 5 roots

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:26 PM
  • 5
    roots
    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:26 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 49 YD
    CAROLINA 24
    TAMPA BAY 23 14:02 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:21 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 10 7 24
    TAMPA BAY 7 6 7 20 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, JERRAMY STEVENS 3 YD PASS FROM LUKE
    MCCOWN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 3:56.
    Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards in 3:56.
    Key plays: Pittman 3-yard run on
    3rd-and-3 to Tampa Bay 43; McCown
    52-

    Dec 30 3:13 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 1 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 24
    TAMPA BAY 20 4:03 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 3:03 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    CHARLES BENNETT 23 YD PASS FROM LUKE MCCOWN
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    CAROLINA 17
    TAMPA BAY 20 6:57 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 2:52 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 10 17
    TAMPA BAY 7 6 13 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, JERRAMY STEVENS 3 YD PASS FROM LUKE
    MCCOWN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 3:56.
    Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards in 3:56.
    Key plays: Pittman 3-yard run on
    3rd-and-3 to Tampa Bay 43; McCown
    52-yard

    Dec 30 2:26 PM


  • NFL
    FG CAR
    JOHN KASAY 19 YD
    CAROLINA 17
    TAMPA BAY 13 0:16 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 2:24 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 23 YD
    CAROLINA 14
    TAMPA BAY 13 2:34 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 2:14 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DANTE ROSARIO 20 YD PASS FROM MATT MOORE
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 14
    TAMPA BAY 10 6:40 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 1:56 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 31 YD
    CAROLINA 7
    TAMPA BAY 10 12:32 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 1:43 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 7
    TAMPA BAY 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, JERRAMY STEVENS 3 YD PASS FROM LUKE
    MCCOWN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 3:56.
    Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards in 3:56.
    Key plays: Pittman 3-yard run on
    3rd-and-3 to Tampa Bay 43; McCown
    52-

    Dec 30 1:37 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    CHRISTIAN FAURIA 2 YD PASS FROM MATT MOORE
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 7
    TAMPA BAY 7 3:55 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 1:25 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    JERRAMY STEVENS 3 YD PASS FROM LUKE MCCOWN
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    CAROLINA 0
    TAMPA BAY 7 11:04 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Panthers vs. BuccaneersDec 30 1:10 PM