Wed, Nov 15, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Panthers rally to beat Buccaneers


Joey Galloway, at rear, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers goes for a ball as Ken Lucas of the Carolina Panthers makes an interception on Monday at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Steve Smith stepped up in the second half as Carolina rallied from a poor start to post a 24-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.

Coming off their National Football League bye week, the Panthers (5-4) managed under 100 total yards, committed a costly turnover and had numerous untimely penalties in the first half, which ended with the Bucs holding a 7-0 lead.

Smith also struggled in the first half while playing through a bout of the flu. The Pro Bowl wide receiver appeared to vomit into a garbage can on the sidelines.

After intermission, Smith flourished as he finished with eight catches for 149 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown catch with 3:11 remaining that gave the Panthers a 24-10 lead.

Jake Delhomme completed 22-of-34 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for the Panthers, who pulled within a game of first-place New Orleans in the NFC South.

Julius Peppers carried things on the defensive side of the ball as he tied a career high with three sacks.

Rookie Bruce Gradkowski threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard in the first quarter for the Bucs (2-7), who lost their third straight game.

Gradkowski's score was set up when former Buc Keyshawn Johnson lost a fumble at his own 48. The young signal-caller then had a 27-yard completion to Joey Galloway.

In just his sixth career start, Gradkowski completed 17-of-32 passes for 173 yards and two interceptions. He was just 6-of-12 for 63 yards with a lost fumble in the second half.

After Matt Bryant kicked a 28-yard field goal with 8:32 remaining to pull the Bucs within 17-10, the Panthers answered with an eight-play, 72-yard drive. Delhomme capped the march with the connection to Smith down the left sideline.

It was the fourth 100-yard game of the season for Smith, who had seven receptions for 112 yards in a 26-24 win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 24.

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