No Newton, no problem as Panthers beat Buccaneers

nfl-kueckly2The Carolina Panthers claimed a 20-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the regular season opener Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Quarterback Derek Anderson, starting in place of an inactive Cam Newton (ribs), completed 24-of-34 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in his first start since 2010.

Anderson threw a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Greg Olsen in the second quarter and 26-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Panthers led 17-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining when Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown orchestrated a comeback, tossing a 19-yard touchdown to wide receiver Chris Owusu and 6-yard touchdown to running back Bobby Rainey on consecutive possessions to make the score 17-14 with just over two minutes left.

The Buccaneers then forced a punt. On the very next play, linebacker Luke Kuechly stripped and forced Rainey to fumble, and cornerback Bene Benwikere recovered the loose ball to seal the win.

Kicker Graham Gano added a 33-yard field goal for the final margin of victory.

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