The wait is finally over.
The National Football League released Tampa Bay's 2006 regular season schedule on Thursday. Home games at Raymond James Stadium are listed in BOLD.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 2006 SCHEDULE
Fri. Aug. 11 - Tampa Bay vs. New York Jets 7:30 p.m. ET WFLA-TV (NBC local)
Sat. Aug. 19 - Tampa Bay vs. Miami 7:30 p.m. ET WFLA-TV (NBC local)
Sat. Aug. 26 - Tampa Bay at Jacksonville 8:00 p.m. ET CBS* (national)
Thurs. Aug. 31 - Tampa Bay at Houston 8:00 p.m. ET WFLA-TV (NBC local)
Sun. Sept. 10 - Tampa Bay vs. Baltimore 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sun. Sept. 17 - Tampa Bay at Atlanta 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Sept. 24 - Tampa Bay vs. Carolina 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Oct. 1 - BYE WEEK
Sun. Oct. 8 - Tampa Bay at New Orleans 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Oct. 15 - Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati 1:00 p.m. ET CBS
Sun. Oct. 22 - Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Oct. 29 - Tampa Bay at NY Giants 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Nov. 5 - Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Mon. Nov. 13 - Tampa Bay at Carolina 9:00 p.m. ET ESPN*
Sun. Nov. 19 - Tampa Bay vs. Washington 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Thurs. Nov. 23 - Tampa Bay at Dallas 4:15 p.m. ET FOX*
Sun. Dec. 3 - Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Dec. 10 - Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Dec. 17 - Tampa Bay at Chicago 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
Sun. Dec. 24 - Tampa Bay at Cleveland 1:00 p.m. ET FOX
* Nationally televised games
• For the first time since 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open the season at home. Their opponent on Sunday, September 10 will be the Baltimore Ravens. The Buccaneers have opened the season on the road for the last three years - at Philadelphia (2003), at Washington (2004) and at Minnesota (2005). Tampa Bay has a 2-2 record on opening day under head coach Jon Gruden.
• Tampa Bay's game at Dallas on November 23 represents the first time in franchise history that the Buccaneers have played on Thanksgiving Day. The game will be nationally televised on Fox with a 4:15 p.m. ET kickoff.
• The Bucs only other regular season primetime game will be at Carolina on Monday, November 13 when the NFC South rivals square off on ESPN's Monday Night Football. However, due to the NFL's new flex-schedule plan for late-season NBC Sunday Night Games, the Buccaneers will have the opportunity to have one of their 1:00 games scheduled on Fox moved to NBC at 8:15 p.m. in weeks 11-15 and week 17 if Tampa Bay is in playoff contention.
• The Buccaneers will not play any games as part of NFL Network's new Thursday/Saturday Night Football late-season package.
• After having a favorable bye week in Week 6 last year after the first five games of the season, the Buccaneers will once again have an early bye week in 2006, with the off week coming in Week 4 on October 1 after only three games have been played.
• Tampa Bay will play more NFC South opponents in the earlier part of the schedule this year as opposed to their 2005 schedule. Last year, the Bucs' first division game came on November 6 when the Bucs hosted the Carolina Panthers. In 2006, the Bucs will travel to Atlanta in Week 2 to face the Falcons, followed by a home date in Week 3 against the Panthers.
• Historically not a good cold weather team, the Buccaneers could be in for some chilly temperatures and wintry weather at Carolina (Nov. 13 - 9:00 p.m. kickoff), at Pittsburgh (Dec. 1), at Chicago (Dec. 17) and at Cleveland (Dec. 24).
• Tampa Bay plays five home contests in the first eight games of the 2006 schedule and just three home games over the last eight contests.
• The Buccaneers will get the chance to avenge last year's Wild Card playoff loss to Washington at Raymond James Stadium when the Redskins travel to Tampa Bay on November 19.
• For only the second straight year, the Buccaneers' season finale` will be at home when they face the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on December 31, which is New Year's Eve. For the first three years under Gruden, the Bucs have ended their season on the road at Chicago (2002), at Tennessee (2003) and at Arizona (2004). The Bucs were victorious in beating the visiting Saints at Raymond James Stadium in last year's season finale`.
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