- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: One game doesn’t make a season, but the Buccaneers could be a lot better than many people expected and the Panthers might be worse. In coach Greg Schiano’s first game, the Bucs snapped a 10-game losing streak that dated back to last October. They also gave their fan base a show of promise and that could help the crowds start coming back to a stadium that has sold out only twice in the last two seasons.
Not so special: The Panthers put a lot of effort into attempting to upgrade their special teams during the offseason. But it looks like they still have issues. Tampa Bay’s Aqib Talib broke free and blocked a punt by rookie Brad Nortman.
Defense rises: I had some serious doubts about TampaBay’s defense coming into the season. But the Bucs went out and put together a solid defensive effort against an offense that was very explosive last year. The Panthers had only 10 net rushing yards and the Bucs intercepted Cam Newton twice. The Bucs also sacked Newton three times.
Ronde’s big day: The Bucs had a big celebration because veteran defensive back Ronde Barber was making his 200th consecutive start. Barber, who has made the move from cornerback to free safety, ended up having a big day. Barber had a sack and an interception.
New feature back: The Bucs made it pretty clear Doug Martin would be their feature back when they traded back into the first round to draft him. For those that were skeptical and thought LeGarrette Blount would hold onto the job, take a look at the numbers. Martin carried 24 times for 95 yards. Blount carried three times for eight yards. Martin also caught four passes for 23 yards. Blount caught 15 passes in all of last season.