The hottest team in football barrels onward.
The Carolina Panthers knocked off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers27-6 at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday to win their eighth consecutive game and match their division rival, the New Orleans Saints, with nine victories on the season.
Here's what else we learned:
- The Panthers' running backs struggled early, but quarterback Cam Newton made up for it, flashing his outstanding mobility on a 56-yard scamper that set up Carolina's first touchdown. Ace Boogie's 20 career games with both a running and passing touchdown lead all active players -- and no quarterback looks better converting short-yardage situations.
- Mike Glennon deserves to be in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year. His arm is legitimate, and the Buccaneers' quarterback entered Sunday with just one pick since Week 6. He didn't show well Sunday, however, losing a fumble on a ghastly botched pass and tossing a costly pick in the third quarter that helped Carolina salt this one away early.
- Darrelle Revis held Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith to one grab for 16 yards, but the Bucs corner had less luck against Ted Ginn, who flamed him for a 36-yard touchdown catch. Revis ultimately left the game with shoulder and chest injuries in the third quarter and never returned.
- Running back Mike Tolbert delivered for the Panthers, accounting for 48 yards on the ground and another 41 through the air. Shaped like a front door, Tolbert is big, versatile, runs angry and ranks as my favorite fullback in the NFL.
- The schedule makers look like intellectual giants after pitting the Panthers (9-3) against the Saints (9-2) twice over the next three weeks -- games likely to decide the NFC South.