CHARLOTTE, NC (Scott Fowler/The Charlotte Observer) - Paced by extremely good defensive play and just enough offense, the Carolina Panthers broke a two-game losing streak Sunday by beating Tampa Bay, 17-3.
Carolina's resurgent defense has allowed only two field goals in the past eight quarters, as both of Chicago's touchdowns last week were scored by the Bears defense.
The game saw the return of both middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) and safety Kurt Coleman (knee) to the Panthers defense, and having two of its veteran captains back in the lineup certainly helped. So did the fact that the Panthers got their first interception in seven games early in the fourth quarter, when safety Mike Adams picked off a floater from Jameis Winston with Carolina clinging to a 10-3 lead.
The Panthers eventually converted that turnover into a 25-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Kelvin Benjamin, making it 17-3. A Kuechly interception of Winston quickly followed – his second of the season – and sent many Buccaneers fans streaming for their cars.
The Panthers are now 5-3 at the 2017 season midpoint and -- after playing four road games in October -- will play their next two games at home against Atlanta and Miami. They remain in good position in the NFC South. Some other observations from the game: