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Last-second Tampa Bay Buccaneers FG beats slumping Carolina Panthers

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The Sports Xchange
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback Jameis Winston. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback Jameis Winston. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo just needed another chance.

After missing two of four previous field-goals attempts Monday night, he was good from 38 yards on the last play of the game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-14 at Bank of America Stadium.

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"I had that opportunity and I overcame," Aguayo said. "I was just working on (the sideline) on hitting the ball at the net and staying comfortable. Not the game that I wanted to have, but at the end of the day, it's just another kick, and I made the one that counted."

The Buccaneers had two third-down conversions and benefited from a facemask penalty with 17 seconds left on their last drive, which covered 66 yards on 11 plays.

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The outcome sent the Panthers (1-4) to their third loss in a row. Carolina won the previous six meetings between the teams.

The Buccaneers (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Aguayo called his final kick his biggest game-winner, counting a 23-yarder in college against Boston College as his other clincher.

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"I never had a game-winner like (in this game)," he said. "How the game was turning out, I was thinking this could come down to the game-winner."

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston completed 18 of 30 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers gained 101 yards on 30 carries.

Rodgers said it was fitting that Aguayo converted.

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"What an opportunity to hit a game-winner," Rodgers said.

Carolina's Derek Anderson, filling in for injured quarterback Cam Newton, committed three turnovers. He was 18 of 28 for 278 yards, but he was intercepted twice.

The Panthers' much-maligned secondary was solid at times but couldn't come up with big stops.

"All we can do is come back to work," Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said. "It's going to take a lot of work and dedication."

The defending NFC champions lost for the second time at home after going unbeaten in 10 games in Charlotte last year.

"Turnovers were big," said Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who caught nine passes for 181 yards. "In this league, the reality is you have to make your own luck. We've got to make our own luck. No one is going to feel sorry for us."

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Carolina running back Cameron Artis-Payne ran for two second-half touchdowns. He finished with 85 yards on 18 carries.

The Panthers drove to the Tampa Bay 1 before cornerback Brent Grimes intercepted Anderson in end zone with 8:39 left. That led to a 51-yard Buccaneers drive, but Aguayo was wide left from 46 yards away.

However, the former Florida State kicker received another chance at the gun.

"We've got to be able to protect the football and gives ourselves an opportunity to score," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "They made some plays and unfortunately we didn't. The truth of the matter is we've got to start to get things rolling."

Artis-Payne scored on a 1-yard, fourth-down run on the first possession of the second half. Olsen had 62 first-half receiving yards and 56 more on the first drive of the third quarter.

It was 14-6 when Artis-Payne ran in from 12 yards out in the third quarter. That capped a 68-yard drive kept alive by a roughing-the-punter penalty on Tampa Bay defensive end Howard Jones.

The Buccaneers needed only four plays to go 75 yards and pull even, with receiver Mike Evans hauling in Winston's 26-yard touchdown pass and receiver Adam Humphries clutching the two-point conversion pass.

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The Panthers were without the NFL's reigning Most Valuable Player as Newton sat out due to a concussion he sustained eight days earlier at Atlanta. Anderson's two previous fill-in starts for Newton resulted in victories against Tampa Bay.

The Bucs led 6-0 at halftime on a pair of 35-yard field goals by Aguayo.

Tampa Bay ate up more than 8 1/2 minutes on the game's first possession on a 15-play drive, settling for Aguayo's first field goal.

Tampa Bay was back in business at the Carolina 30-yard line midway through the second quarter when Panthers return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. muffed a punt as teammate Teddy Williams bumped into him. Tampa Bay's Russell Shepard recovered the miscue.

The Buccaneers reached the 5-yard line before stalling with an illegal-procedure infraction on tackle Gosder Cherilus and a delay-of-game penalty. Aguayo missed from 33 yards out when his attempt bounced off the right upright.

The Panthers took only three snaps in a rapidly moving first quarter. A second-quarter threat ended when linebacker Daryl Smith picked off Anderson's tipped pass at the Tampa Bay 42.

The Buccaneers turned that into Aguayo's second field goal 43 seconds before halftime.

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Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed a 43-yarder wide left with one second to play in the half. The Panthers had 51 of their 148 yards of first-half total offense on that drive.

NOTES: The Panthers cut CB Bene Benwikere on Friday and added CB Zack Sanchez from the practice squad in a move that shook up the secondary after yielding 300 receiving yards to Atlanta WR Julio Jones in their previous game. ... The Buccaneers played with a revamped defensive line because injuries kept out DE Robert Ayers, DT Gerald McCoy and DT Clinton McDonald. ... Tampa Bay put RB Charles Sims III on injured reserve prior to the game. ... This marked the fourth time in coach Ron Rivera's six seasons that the Panthers held a 1-3 record through their first four games. ... Carolina plays Sunday at New Orleans. ... Tampa Bay, which played a Monday night game for the first time since 2013, takes next week off.

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