Panthers - Buccaneers Game Ball: Gerald McCoy

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 09: Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy #93 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles running back DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Gerald McCoy's statline was good, but not great on Sunday. He had one sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. That's okay - but it's not as great a statline as would befit his dominant performance. If tehre was one player who could be said to have anchored the team's run defense and pass defense on Sunday, it was Gerald McCoy. In fact, after a start that featured him mostly as a run-stopper, he appeared to live in the Panthers' backfield. He forced cutbacks into traffic from running backs, forced scrambles and poor throws from Newton: he forced a bad throw which was dropped by Ahmad Black and forced another minus-6 yard completion with his pressure. It was as dominant a performance as we've seen from a defensive tackle in a Tampa Bay uniform in a long time - although McCoy has had some pretty good games in the past two years, overshadowed by his injuries.

What made McCoy's performance even more impressive was the presence of replacement referees, who appeared to have no idea that this thing called 'holding' was, in fact, an actual thing. He knifed through the Panthers' offensive line again and again despite being held constantly - he still shed them and got after the quarterback. And where in previous seasons McCoy wouldn't play for a full game, he was in on a whopping 94% of the snaps this week. He was dominant, and he was able to keep it up for a full game - pretty good for a 300 lb human being.

If Gerald McCoy can keep this up for a full season, he should be an All-Pro defensive tackle. This simple fact only underscores one pesky fact: this defense will have a problem if McCoy isn't able to stay healthy, as has happened the past two years. For now, though, we can say: so far so good.

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