Bucs fans were in full throat on Sunday - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
What made Tampa Bay’s 14-5 upset win over Seattle so special?
Was it the combination of Winston’s throws to Mike Evans, who had two touchdown catches and an eight-catch, 104-yard effort to push his season totals to 73 catches for 1,020 yards and 10 touchdowns?
Was it the dominant play of the Bucs defense, which held a potent Seahawks offense to just a field goal and 245 yards, including 133 through three quarters?
Was it the inspired play of cornerback Alterraun Verner, who was playing with a grieving heart over the loss of his father and came up with a big interception before halftime to halt the Seahawks’ momentum and prevent them from scoring?
Seahawks fans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
All of those factors were important, but what made the Bucs’ win over the Seahawks so special were the atmosphere and the raucous crowd at Raymond James Stadium. It was the loudest crowd I’ve heard in Tampa in several years. Louder than any prime time crowd for this year’s Thursday Night Football game against Atlanta or the 2013 Monday Night Football game against Miami.
The paid attendance of 63,674 was just shy of a complete sellout, and the actual attendance of 57,882 was the biggest crowd at Raymond James Stadium this year by over 3,000.
Yes, there were plenty of Seattle fans there with their 12th Man banners and flags, but there were also a lot of Bucs fans who were in full throat from the beginning, eager to see if Tampa Bay was truly building some momentum from back-to-back wins against Chicago at home and Kansas City at Arrowhead.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson said. “That crowd was amazing. I told Dirk [Koetter] that after the game. I said, ‘You’re bringing something special to Tampa that I’ve never been a part of. In my eight years here, I’ve never seen that.’ That’s the most electrifying crowd I’ve seen here. We’re giving them something to cheer for. We just have to keep it up.”
If you weren’t there at Raymond James Stadium, the only way I can describe it is that it was a crowd from yesteryear. A crowd that was from the glory days when Jon Gruden roamed the sidelines and 65,000 Bucs fans had his back. A crowd that believed their team had a chance to win every home game and knew that it could help their pewter-clad pirates do just that.
The Bucs beat writers and columnists I spoke with on Sunday agreed that this crowd was definitely different. Actually, I didn’t speak – I shouted at my colleagues because our section of the press box is open air and the noise at times was deafening. Shouting at the person sitting next to you was the only way to communicate at times.
I can only imagine how difficult it was for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and his offensive line to hear the cadence on the field. Chalk up a few of Tampa Bay’s season-high six sacks to the fans, whose crowd noise caused the Seahawks offensive line to be a half a second late off the ball on occasion.
Bucs DE Robert Ayers, Jr. – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The atmosphere at Raymond James Stadium was like that of a playoff game – although none of the Bucs’ homegrown players, such as Dotson, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David have ever experienced a single playoff game in their standout careers.
“Now that was a playoff crowd,” David said. “I’ve never been to the playoffs, but I imagine that’s what it’s like. It makes you want it again, but we have to take it one game at a time and keep stacking victories.”
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who played in Tampa Bay from 1995-2003, was at Sunday’s game along with fellow Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was a Buccaneer legend from 1995-2008. Sapp enjoyed the environment immensely.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen this place rock like this. It felt good,” Sapp said with a wide grin as I spoke with him after the Bucs emerged from the field victorious over a former Super Bowl team in the Seahawks.
After the game Dotson couldn’t thank the crowd, which stayed until the end, enough for their support.
“That was different – today was different,” Dotson said. “That was like a Sunday night game. The crowd was in to it. They were having fun. I saw my texts after the game and people were telling me that it was the most fun game they’ve ever been to. There was plenty to cheer about. The defense played great. We were fighting hard. You could feel the electricity in the crowd.
“When we were on defense and they were on offense they had to go to a silent count it was so loud. How many times have teams had to do that here? Not many. It was great to see. The more we win the better it’s going to be because more people are going to fill this place up. We’ll sell out and this place will be loud like that all the time. Dirk is turning this thing into something good here.”
Armed with a 6-5 record, a three-game winning streak and suddenly in contention for an NFC playoff spot, the Bucs’ December 11th home game against the New Orleans Saints (5-6) has been flexed from 1:00 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. ET and will be the Fox national TV game in two weeks. Two weeks ago I predicted that the Bucs vs. Cowboys game in Dallas on December 18 would be flexed from 1:00 p.m. ET to Sunday Night Football. Don’t be surprised if that happens, too.
The Bucs have now won two straight games at home after winning just three games at Raymond James Stadium over the past two and a half years. Half of the crowd in the Bucs vs. Bears game three weeks ago was rooting for Chicago. Nearly half the crowd on Sunday seemed to be rooting for Seattle, which has become sort of a national team after its recent success and the popularity of Pro Bowlers like
Seahawks fans and Bucs fans – Photo by: Getty Images
Wilson, Richard Sherman and others.
But according to David, the Seahawks – and their fans – lost on Sunday. The Seahawks fans were loud. The Bucs fans were louder.
“I don’t think I’ve seen the crowd like that before,” David said. “It was a very emotional day and the fans were in it all day long. Seattle’s fans travel well and some of their fans were here today. But our fans conquered their fans, and that’s what it’s all about it. It was so loud when we were on defense it was amazing. We just have to keep on piling up victories at our home so it continues.”
Dotson expects even more Tampa Bay fans to show up for the next home game and that they will outnumber any New Orleans fans in attendance.
“In my eight seasons here it used to be dead and you never heard the crowd that loud,” Dotson said. “But now those guys have something to cheer about. We’re giving them something to cheer about and that’s going to keep bringing them in the stands.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Even on TV it was obvious that the home town crowd sounded like a home town crowd for the first time in years. We don’t have a terrible towel or twelfth man thing in Tampa, never did.
Maybe the Glazers ought to think on that a bit, and maybe leverage up the hometown spirit by starting something new that is a signature Bucs crowd “thing”. I have no idea what it should be, but it seems high time that we did.
Maybe handing out Skull and Crossbones flags for the crowd to wave and chant something with. I bet the players would love to feel the love in a special “Bucs” way.
Can the crowd learn to do the pirate’s “Arrrrgghhh!” to intimidate the visitors? It worked for the pirates, didn’t it?
You mean, “More cowbell!”
Not to disrespect the cultural importance of the Haka to New Zealanders but I’ve always thought that a type of group war dance / chant like that would be particularly chilling to watch as an opponent or opponent’s fan. Heck, my high school football team, like most others, had a rudimentary version of us banging on our pads and the like. It of course would require a large group of fans learning a common “dance” and chant. But make it loud and tough. I say, find someone in the Tampa area that knows about Haka and have them develop a version for the Bucs, put it out on YouTube and have everyone learn it. It would be cool as hell to see with the team and fans responding in unison to a “Call” from the PA announcer with a loud guttural “hooah”, then scaring the hell out of the other team with an ear splitting chant and stomps. But make it in English versus Maori. Rock Ray Jay.
Yes, it was obvious on TV that the Bucs’ fans were rock’in! I was also happy that Daryl “Moose” Johnston was there as the analyst. He is excellent. Go Bucs!
Naplesfan, I suggested that exact same idea to the Bucs
PR department 3 years ago. I wish they would.
Well, the Bucs folks probably read Pewter Report … maybe Scott oughta write up a special post on the subject of the Bucs hometown crowds needing a “thing” of some kind to rally behind.
Something like that happening in the middle of a general fan sense that we’re finally on to something … it could sprout some legs.
Dotson, you’re bringing something to Tampa that I’ve never been part of. Dot, keep getting beat, or committing bad penalties, and you won’t be part of it for long!
First game lost my voice at in over ten years I think. Lol. Fun stuff.
Legion of Boo!
It was a BLAST and Buccaneer fans were into it like no other game in the last decade. Damn it was rewarding. Now…. on to San Diego.
I moved up to Seattle in 2008. I hadn’t been to a game since 06 but man I made it back just in time!! So fun even with my pouting Seahawks fan of a wife sitting next to me!! Here comes the season ticket waiting list!! Get on board! And as for the crowd chant, I sure wish we could make Jamies feel at home with am Osceola chant like at FSU!! I’m sure that would seem in bad taste but it sure would be fun!
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