TAMPA, Fla. -- With Tampa Bay lining up to kick an extra point with no time on the clock, the Carolina Panthers easily could have hung their heads and accepted defeat.
The Buccaneers knew they wouldn't.
"It's never over. We fight to the end," Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said after Kris Jenkins blocked what would have been a game-winning conversion by Martin Gramatica. That set the stage for the Panthers to beat the Super Bowl champions 12-9 in overtime Sunday.
"We knew they had to go out and make the extra point. We blocked two kicks prior to that, so we thought: 'Hey, we've got a chance. ... By the grace of God we blocked it."
John Kasay's fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with 3:28 remaining in the extra period, capped a wild final few minutes.
The Bucs had tied it with no time left in regulation on Keenan McCardell's 6-yard reception. Considering Gramatica never missed an extra point in his career (129 attempts), the conversion seemed a formality.
Jenkins had other ideas.
"I went in and blocked it. I don't think it was rocket science or anything," said Jenkins, who also knocked down a 38-yard field goal try in the second quarter. "It was now or never. We didn't have a choice. Somebody had to get it."
Stephen Davis rushed for 142 yards and Kasay also kicked field goals of 28, 35 and 20 yards for Carolina (2-0), which set up Kasay's game-winner with Steve Smith's 52-yard punt return to the Tampa Bay 40.
Last week, the Panthers also blocked a punt for a safety and blocked a 55-yard field goal attempt to save a 24-23 win over Jacksonville.
Six days after opening the season with a dominating 17-0 victory over Philadelphia in a rematch of last season's NFC championship game, the Bucs (1-1) looked flat. They self-destructed with frequent mistakes, including 17 penalties for 168 yards.
"We all ate some humble pie today," Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice said. "We've got to put everything in front of us, understand what it is. It's just one game."
Trailing 9-3, the Bucs drove 82 yards in 10 plays to tie it on Brad Johnson's 6-yard pass to McCardell, who got both feet in bounds before falling out of the end zone.
The Panthers, who overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to win their opener, this time overcame 16 penalties for 120 yards. After Smith's punt return up the right sideline, Davis ran for 10 yards to the Tampa Bay 30.
Four plays later, Kasay kicked his game-winner.
Jake Delhomme, who came off the bench to lead Carolina's comeback against the Jaguars, was 9-of-23 for 96 yards in his third pro start. He was sacked twice and threw two interceptions, including Brian Kelly's pick that set up Gramatica's 41-yarder late in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay opened with a dominating performance against Philadelphia. It began the day with a chance to become the first team in more than 25 years to shut out three consecutive regular-season opponents.
Kasay's first field goal ended a stretch of 11 straight scoreless quarters for the Bucs' defense. Al Wallace returned an interception 53 yards to set up another field goal for a 6-0 halftime lead.
The Bucs outgained the Panthers 190-107 up to that point. But the defending champions hurt themselves with five costly penalties.
The sloppy play continued in the second half, with Tampa Bay being penalized seven times for 70 yards in the third quarter.
Johnson completed 34 of a career-high 61 passes for 339 yards. He was sacked once and threw one interception. Keyshawn Johnson led the Bucs with nine receptions for 102 yards, but dropped a leaping try in the end zone with 19 seconds left in regulation.
Brad Johnson found McCardell for the game-tying TD two plays later.
"Last year, we were 1-1 at this point and went to the Super Bowl," Keyshawn Johnson said. "There's no panic setting in for us. We just have to evaluate where we are at and what we did that was wrong out there and try to make the corrections."
- Carolina was 1-5 in the NFC South last year, with its only division win in the season finale against New Orleans.
- Davis, who rushed for 111 yards against Jacksonville last week, became the first Panthers runner to have multiple 100-yard games in a season since Tshimanga Biakabutuka in 1999.
- Tampa Bay receiver Joe Jurevicius sprained his right knee late in the third quarter and did not return.
- The Bucs had at least one sack and one interception for the 43rd straight game, the longest such streak in the last 40 years.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved