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NFL finds Bucs didn’t break rules with distracting video boards

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01: Graham Gano #9 of the Carolina Panthers misses a 58-yard field goal on the final play of the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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After losing in Tampa Bay in Week 17, Carolina players and coaches accused the Buccaneers of “bush league” tactics by using their video boards to distract Panthers kicker Graham Gano. But the NFL saw no problem with the anything the Bucs did.

A league spokesman told the Charlotte Observer that there was no evidence the Buccaneers broke NFL rules.

Gano went 1-for-4 on field goals during the game and said afterward that he was distracted by the video boards behind the goal posts in the end zones, which the Buccaneers were using to display the uprights, making it appear to Gano from a distance like he was seeing two different sets of uprights. While Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo lined up for kicks, the video board only displayed a Buccaneers logo.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera also complained that he thought the Buccaneers were trying to incite their fans by repeatedly showing Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis hit Bucs wide receiver Russell Shepard. The Buccaneers didn’t break the rules with those replays either, the league said.

As is so often the case with the NFL investigating misconduct, the key should be consistency. In some cases, when one team accuses another team of breaking a rule to get a competitive advantage, the league launches a long investigation. In this case, the league quickly ruled that there was no wrongdoing.