TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay resting most of its starters for the playoffs didn’t stop Carolina from treating its season finale as a meaningful game and giving Vinny Testaverde a nice send-off.
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Panthers beat the NFC South champion Buccaneers, 31-23, with the retiring Testaverde, 44, taking the last snap in the same city where he began his NFL career in 1987.
Matt Moore threw for 174 yards and two touchdown passes for Carolina (7-9) in his third pro start, preventing Tampa Bay (9-7) from joining the 1999 St. Louis Rams as the only teams since 1970 to go unbeaten in division play the year after going winless.
Testaverde entered the game after the Panthers stopped Tampa Bay’s final drive on downs with 35 seconds left.
Quoteworthy: “Yesterday I heard I was the UCLA coach. Today I heard I was the Miami head coach. Right now I can tell you I’m the Carolina head coach.” -- John Fox, Panthers coach