CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Plagued all season by turnovers and poor quarterback play, the Carolina Panthers took advantage of them on Sunday.
Jonathan Stewart rushed for 120 yards and the game's only touchdown, and the Panthers intercepted rookie Josh Freeman five times on Sunday — three times near the goal line — in a 16-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With struggling QB Jake Delhomme (broke finger) sidelined, Matt Moore made his fourth professional start and his first since the end of the 2007 season for Carolina (5-7).
Moore threw for 161 yards, including a 66-yard pass to Steve Smith that set up John Kasay's third field goal with 7:12 left that put it away.
But the defense won the game for the Panthers. Jon Beason had two interceptions near the end zone, and Tampa Bay (1-11) had a stretch of four trips inside the 20 with no points.
Freeman, in his fifth pro start, completed 23 of 44 passes for a career-high 321 yards, but poor decisions sent the Bucs to their fourth straight loss.
The rookie's biggest error came on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with the Bucs trailing 13-6 early in the fourth quarter. His pass into the end zone was picked off by Chris Harris.
Freeman was twice intercepted by Beason in the third quarter, once in the end zone with Carolina leading 10-6, and again near the end zone after Carolina had taken a seven-point lead. That came one play after Chris Gamble had fumbled a punt to give Tampa Bay the ball at the 20.
With Connor Barth hitting the upright on a 36-yard field goal and missing a 42-yarder later, the Bucs spent the brisk day wasting opportunities and another solid defensive performance after coach Raheem Morris took over the playcalling.
With thousands of empty seats, it was a much different atmosphere from their Monday night meeting here last season when both teams were 9-3 and vying for the NFC South lead, Carolina was just good enough to snap a two-game losing streak in its disappointing season.
The Panthers were without running back DeAngelo Williams, who entered as the NFL's fourth-leading rusher with 1,022 yards but hadn't practiced since injuring his ankle a week earlier against the Jets.
It gave Stewart his first career start, and he rushed for 82 yards in the first half, including a 3-yard touchdown run on the first possession. Stewart had a career-high 26 carries, taking pressure off Moore.
Moore completed 14 of 20 passes with an interception in the 25-year-old's fourth career start after replacing Delhomme, who has 18 interceptions.
The Panthers took a 10-0 first-quarter lead when Kasay became only the seventh kicker with 400 career field goals before the Buccaneers got back in the game.
Receiver Antonio Bryant, who complained last week that he wanted a bigger role in the offense, caught five passes for 116 yards. His catches of 40 and 20 yards set up two field goals.
Bryant made another miraculous one-handed grab along the left sideline in double coverage early in the second half. But Freeman was picked off on the next play in the end zone by Beason, playing less than a week after his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge.
It was that kind of day for Tampa Bay, with the final pick coming by Gamble with 18 seconds left.
The Bucs, without top cornerback Aqib Talib because of a hamstring injury, got an interception from Geno Hayes in the first half, while Carolina's Charles Godfrey picked off Freeman.
It was a physical game that had plenty of intensity despite the teams' poor records. Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood leveled a late hit on Gamble that help stall a first-half drive. That could've stemmed from a play in the first meeting when Dante Wesley's vicious hit on Bucs kick returner Clifton Smith earned him a one-game suspension.
Smith didn't last past the opening kickoff Sunday, when he sustained another concussion trying to make a tackle.
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams rushed for 92 yards for Tampa Bay, which fell to 1-15 since its previous trip to Carolina.