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Happy days in Tampa Bay: Buccaneers clinch third consecutive division title with 9-0 win over Panthers

Besides the game, one of the best (or worst) parts of football seasons are Monday mornings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Any football fan will tell you, whether it’s during school, at work, or on your favorite sports talk show— Monday mornings are for bragging rights, armchair quarterbacks, and “Did you see when?!” This Monday morning, Buccaneers’ fans giving a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game will start with the—

First quarter-

The Buccaneers started the game with the ball and Mike Evans. Two throws to Tampa's star receiver got the Buccaneers an early first down and some momentum. That momentum got the Bucs' offense across midfield, but no further. With a pass heavy opening drive (just one Rachaad White run) the Buccaneers punted the ball to Carolina.

Bryce Young’s rookie season hasn't gone exactly according to script. The Carolina Panthers have just two wins and a good amount of turmoil surrounding the team's future. Today's game wasn't an opportunity to save the season but it did represent a chance for Carolina's young passer to gain some positive energy heading into the offseason. On his first drive, young was nearly intercepted and ultimately sacked on a third down dropback, forcing his offense to punt.

NFL: JAN 07 Buccaneers at Panthers Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following some ugly offensive football and more punts by each team, Tampa Bay and Carolina meandered into quarter number two.

Second quarter-

The Panthers started the second quarter with the ball and took the first lead of day, for a moment. A near score was stripped away by Antoine Winfield Jr. for a Buccaneers' touch back. The forced fumble was his second play of that fashion this season. The highlight was very reminiscent of the safety's play against the Atlanta Falcons earlier in the year.

It took time but Tampa's offense finally started to find its footing piecing together a long drive, mixing both the run and pass, to take a 3-0 lead.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In a low scoring first half, Tampa Bay's successful field goal stood as the lone points until Chase McLaughlin kicked a second field through the uprights. 6-0, Bucs.

Third quarter-

Carolina opened the second half with more of the same— a punt. Pinned deep Baker Mayfield took the field and also mirrored his first half performance— Tampa Bay punted.

As third quarter clock ticked down to two minutes, Bryce Young and the Panthers found life. The team's offense exploded, moving across midfield and into field goal range. One third down sack later and Carolina trotted out their field goal unit to try and break the shutout. No good— the shutout remained intact— 6-0, Buccaneers.

Fourh quarter-

Amidst as poor an offensive outing as Tampa Bay has given their fans all year, Baker Mayfield and the Bucs stumbled down the field on the back of a Chase Edmonds burst. The drive ended with a stalled trip in the red zone and led to a third Chase McLaughlin field goal— 9-0, Bucs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Defending their first two score lead of the day, Tampa Bay's pass rush asserted itself. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka came flying into Carolina's backfield off Bryce Young’s blindside and made possibly the biggest play of his young career. A strip-sack recovered by Greg Gaines to all but secure the 2023 Buccaneers a playoff berth.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran out the clock and defeated the Carolina Panthers 9-0. They will be playing next week in the 2023 NFL Postseason. Congratulations to Todd Bowles, Baker Mayfield, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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