Rapid Reaction: Panthers 38, Buccaneers 23

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Now comes the hard part.

The Carolina Panthers (10-3) put themselves atop the NFC South with perhaps their best performance of the season, defeating Tampa Bay, 38-23, Monday. They erased some concerns about their offense and showed Tampa Bay's defense might not be as good as everyone thought.

The Panthers ran their home record to 7-0 and extended the NFC South's overall home record to 24-2. But as dominant as Carolina's performance in the fourth quarter was, the Panthers still may have to sweat out an NFC South crown.

They've got a tough Denver team at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday and close the season on the road with games against the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints.

That's a pretty difficult remaining schedule. If the Panthers want to get back home, they're going to have to keep playing like they did Monday night and put the division away by winning two or three more.