Two games into the season, the Carolina Panthers have scored two touchdowns, coughed up eight turnovers and tried two quarterbacks.
They're still looking for their first win.
In a battle between the NFL's two youngest teams, Tampa Bay's 22-year-old quarterback outplayed both of the Panthers' passers. Josh Freeman atoned for a five-interception game against Carolina last season to lead the Buccaneers to a 20-7 win Sunday in front of crowd of 72,577 at Bank of America Stadium.
Many of the fans had cleared out by the fourth quarter when Panthers coach John Fox sent rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen into the game for Matt Moore after Moore's second turnover and sixth of the season.
Fox would not say who would start against Cincinnati next weekend when the Panthers try to avoid starting 0-3 for the second consecutive season.
"Right now I don't think I can make that decision at this point. I don't think Matt's been benched by any stretch," Fox said. "Yet, we'll start whoever gives us the best chance to win next week."
At least one veteran offensive player thought Sunday might have signaled a changing of the guard.
Asked how the offense would change with Clausen running it, receiver Steve Smith said, "We're going to find out next week."
Moore, who was 4-1 as a starter in the final five games of 2009, fell into the same pattern he exhibited in last week's loss at New York. He displayed little touch on his passes, made poor decisions, and - with the Panthers trailing in the second half - took a pounding in the pocket.
Moore was 6-of-16 for 125 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once, lost a fumble and twice overthrew receivers who appeared to have clear paths to the end zone.
Moore has been sacked eight times in two games while completing 41 percent of his passes. His quarterback rating stands at 41.8.
But he said he has not lost confidence and is preparing to start against the Bengals.
"I don't think you can afford to lose any confidence. That can't happen in this league," Moore said. "Frustration? Yeah, but you get over that quickly. Next week will be here soon. We just need to move forward and continue."
Clausen moved the offense within a yard of the Tampa Bay end zone on his first series. But as has been the case since the start of the preseason, the Panthers could not dent it.
On fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 3 minutes, 36 seconds left, Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes threw Jonathan Stewart for a 1-yard loss. It was the Panthers' only failed fourth-down conversion in four tries.
On the Panthers' next possession, Clausen was intercepted when his short pass caromed off the hands of Mike Goodson and was picked off by Aqib Talib.
Clausen, the Panthers' second-round pick from Notre Dame, completed 7 of 13 passes for 59 yards.
"I thought I did all right. There were some throws I could have made better, located the ball a little better," he said. "A loss is a loss."
The Panthers lost to a Tampa Bay team that was 3-13 in 2009 and used its top two draft picks to select defensive tackles in the hopes of improving the NFL's worst rush defense last season. The Bucs, 2-0 for the first time since 2005, used a lot of eight-man fronts to hold Carolina to 3.6 yards a carry.
But timing issues in the passing game remained the Panthers' biggest problem, which Fox said was "not a new story."
In the first quarter, Moore threw the ball away after he failed to notice Smith break free along the right sideline behind Talib.
Trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Moore had tight end Dante Rosario open after a play-action fake, but his throw glanced off Rosario's fingertips. The Panthers came away with no points on the drive when Moore was sacked.
"We weren't good enough offensively. That was evident," Fox said. "We had opportunities. We had drops. We had misses. ... You're not going to win your share of games in this league scoring seven points."
While Moore struggled, Freeman bounced back from his rough outing in a 16-6 loss to Carolina in December near the end of his rookie season. Freeman, 6-foot-6, 248 pounds, kept plays alive by eluding pass-rushers, locating receivers downfield and scrambling (43 yards on four attempts) when he had no one open.
Freeman had no turnovers and was not sacked.
The Panthers might be on the verge of starting another young, highly acclaimed quarterback. But left tackle Jordan Gross said the offensive woes go deeper than quarterback.
"It's tough starting 0-2, kind of in an ugly fashion. Especially today, it wasn't very pretty. There wasn't a lot of good things happening offensively," Gross said. "Our defense was playing their tail off, special teams looked fine. Offense just has to get a lot better.
"We're definitely not even close to what's expected of us."