The results leave the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks with losing records after seven games, with both Tampa Bay and Green Bay on 3-4.
The Panthers traded their main offensive talent, running back Christian McCaffrey, to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and came into the clash as heavy underdogs.
But Carolina nullified seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense in an impressive display.
Brady was 32-of-49 for 290 yards as the 45-year-old’s Bucs suffered a fourth loss, leaving the former New England Patriots star in the worst position he has found himself in at this stage in a season for 20 years.
Tom Brady’s Frustration
While Brady was frustrated by a resilient Panthers defense, his opposite number, former XFL quarterback P.J. Walker, deputising for the injured Baker Mayfield, delivered a first win for Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks.
Walker found D.J. Moore at the back of the end zone with a 20-yard pass to give the Panthers the lead in the second quarter and Chuba Hubbard’s 17-yard touchdown run made it 14-0 in the third.
All the Bucs could manage was a 27-yard field goal from Ryan Succop in the fourth before Walker delivered again, finding Tommy Tremble with a 29-yard touchdown pass to secure the victory.
“I think we all just need to do our job better. There’s no easy way about it,” said Brady.
“Anytime you score three points, that pretty much sums it up. We’re plenty capable of making plays, we’re just not making them consistently enough to score points. We make a big play, make a bad play, make a big play, make a bad play. In football that’s just not good enough. You can’t play like that,” Brady added.
Rodgers also found himself beaten by a backup quarterback, as Taylor Heinicke and the Commanders came from behind for a narrow win.
A four-yard pass from Rodgers to Aaron Jones gave the Packers a first-quarter lead and they extended that to 14-3 with De’Vondre Campbell’s 63-yard interception return early in the second.
But Heinicke started the comeback with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gibson, trimming the half-time deficit to 14-10, and then put Washington ahead thanks to a superb 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Rodgers ‘not worried’
Two field goals for Washington gave them a nine-point lead before Rodgers again connected with Jones to make it a two-point game.
To add to his disappointment, it was Rodgers who threw a lateral out of bounds in the desperate final play of the game.
Despite the setback, 38-year-old Rodgers said he wasn’t overly concerned about the team’s form, believing they would bounce back strongly.
“I’m not worried about this squad. In fact, this might be the best thing for us,” he said.
The leading quarterback of a younger generation, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, offered another example of his quality, recovering from an interception on the team’s first drive in a 44-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Mahomes threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns in the rematch of the 2019 season Super Bowl.
Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman had a stellar day with three touchdowns — two rushing and one eight yard catch.
It was also a good day for returning Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who led the Cowboys over Detroit 24-6 in his first appearance since a thumb injury in week one. The Cowboys are 5-2 while the Lions fell to 1-5.
Prescott finished with 207 passing yards and one touchdown in 25 attempts, completing 19 of them as Dallas relied primarily on their defense and running game.
The Seattle Seahawks (4-3) took over top spot in the NFC West with rookie running back Kenneth Walker III powering to two touchdowns and 168 yards on 23 carries in a 37-23 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The New York Giants claimed their fourth straight victory with a 23-17 triumph over the Jacksonville Jaguars, with quarterback Daniel Jones finishing with a career-high 107 rushing yards on 11 carries as well as throwing for 202 yards.
The Tennessee Titans remained in charge of the AFC South division after beating the Indianapolis Colts 19-10.
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