Giles scores four TD against Marino, Bert Emmanuel still made that catch, Barber puts the Bucs into the Super Bowl, Alstott takes it in for two, and the Giants and Bucs combine for almost 1000 yards of offense. These are the games which made the 10-6 most exciting Buc games of all time. Please be aware I am in Florida on vacation until Sunday so the final installment won’t be for a couple of days. Apologize but it cannot be avoided. 10) 1985: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (41-38 M). In a game that looked to be a mismatch between the undefeated and eventual AFC Champions and the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa surprised everyone by taking the Dolphins to the absolute limit. It began in expected fashion, with Miami jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead on TD passes from QB Dan Marino to Nat Moore and Jim Jensen, and after a Reveiz FG, they held a 24-7. But not so fast, on the first of a team record four touchdown catches of his own, Jimmy Giles grabbed a fifteen yarder to keep the Bucs in 24-14 at the half. Beginning where they left off, the Dolphins continued to pile it on after former Buccaneer Hugh Green intercepted Steve DeBerg and Bruce Hardy catches a 3 yarder for the score, the Dolphins headed into the 4th looking good at 38-21, with all Tampa being able to do was a 39 TD again to Jimmie Giles across the middle. Then comes the comeback. Following an incredible Giles TD catch in which he stretches out and dives to catch a ball just beyond two Dolphin defenders, CB Jeremiah Castille picks off Marino, and DeBerg finds Giles at the 6. Giles is hit, has the ball go up in the air, snags it breaks the tackle and takes it to the house. Suddenly, Tampa is only behind 38-35, and stopping the Dolphins, had a chance to take the lead but have to settle for Donald Igwebuike 38 yard field goal with not much time left. It was not enough, though, as Marino would take Miami down and Reveiz sent a 43 yarder through the uprights to seemingly end the game. Had Tampa had about 10 seconds more it would not have. Showing a guttiness that they hadn’t displayed for most of the season, DeBerg goes back and completes a 57 yard Hail Mary to WR Kevin House deep in Miami territory. Unfortunately, even as he was able to get out of bounds, the clock had already expired, leaving Tampa fans proud but still looking for their first win. Despite the loss, this game was still one for the ages.9) 2005: Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (36-35 TB). In 2005, Tampa was a surprise team in the NFL but after 8 weeks were 5-3, having dropped 3 of their last 4 games. Coming down to 2 point conversion, this game was a classic. In the first half, Tampa dominated a bit of the game, turning a Biggers interception into a TD after a long pass to WR Joey Galloway. In the second quarter, Alstott made his second trip into the endzone after Simeon Rice made an interception. Rice was unreal in the first half, with 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an INT. Washing ton stayed in the game though thanks to 100 yard rushing in the first half by RB Portis and a 100 kickoff for for a score by Betts. In the second half, Washington stepped into the driver’s seat following a “Cadillac” Williams fumble and Redskin score, then went in on a Betts’ 25 yard touchdown reception. Sims then hit Sammy Slaughter on a 50 yard bomb and the game is tied again. Later in the gaem and down by seven, Sims has Galloway for a quick six but just overthrows him. The play still results in a great leaping catch in the middle of the field for 32 yards. Tampa would be stopped on down after a Chris Sims has his 4th down pass knocked down. The defense holds Washington to a critical 3 and out when RB Portis is tripped up half a yard short on third down, setting up the dramatic finale. Going back, Sims hits Edell Shepherd down the right sideline for an apparent game tying 34 yard touchdown…except following two offsides calls against the Redskins on the PAT (on one play they blocked it even), Jon Gruden decides his best chance to win is to go for two points from the 1 yard line. Alstott takes it up the gut, is initially stopped but spinning and giving his characteristic effort, the A-Train puts it in the endzone while falling down. Commentator Troy Aikman say he didn’t make it during the replay review but he was wrong. The play holds up on review and the Bucs would begin a 3 game winning streak, taking down the Skins, 36-35. 2012: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants (41-34NYG). Having done a quick review, I think this may be the third highest scoring game in Tampa history, and what a game it was. In Greg Schiano’s second game as coach, the Bucs faced the defending Super Bowl champs on the road. Eli Manning passed for over 500 yards with the Giants getting over 600 overall but what a game it was. It started in prophetic fashion, with Manning hitting WR Hicks for 25 yards, and Freeman going to Vincent Jackson for 40 that set up 2 field goals. In the second quarter, though, the Buc defense got three interceptions to get Tampa points. MLB Foster’s set up a Jackson 20 yard TD pass, CB McDonald’s let the muscle hamster loose for 13 yards, and then, with the Giants looking to take a halftime lead, CB Eric Wright picked one off, and just when it looked like he’d go out of bounds, he sprints down the sideline 66 yards. Far from being behind, the Bucs have a 24-13 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers still led by 11 when Eli his Victor Cruz for 80 yards and then TE Bennett for 34 to put New York up by seven. I know I was going crazy asking the Bucs to quit blitzing and leaving our corners one on one with Nicks and Cruz. One might have thought it was over, but those thoughts were put to rest when out of nowhere, WR Mike Williams leaps over the Giant defender in the end zone to haul in a 42 yard bomb that ties the score right at the two minute warning. Going against a porous defense, though, Manning completes two long passes, and in an interesting move, RB Brown deliberately falls down at the 1 yard line with a minute left so New York can run out the clock and win it with a field goal. The Giants would get its touchdown on the next play with Buc defenders being told to run backwards and get us the ball back. The offense should have been given a chance to get that score as with Mike Williams takes in a pass along the left sideline at the Giant 16. There were 12 seconds left and I thought we would do it, but suddenly there is a review. I actually was quite confident as I saw it, but suddenly a bad overturn takes it away. The game’s final play was a controversial one though I must admit I loved it. With Eli Manning and the Giants set to take a knee, the Buc defenders aren't ready to say the game is over. They charge in, knock Eli over, and try to knock the ball out of his hands and almost succeed. The play almost starts a fight , but Buc fans could be proud of how their team kept fighting until the final seconds of an excellent game. Sadly, we just didn't have a pass defense that year.7) 1999: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams (11-6 STL) NFC Championship. Watching the game, this was a case of a defense playing, as Ron Jaworski said, “the best performance I have ever seen.” No one gave Tampa a chance. Instead, even as the vaunted St. Louis offense played a good game, they ran into a defense that simply was better than they were. On the game’s 1st play, DE Greg White intercepts Warner on a screen pass to set up a Tampa Bay field goal even as King and the offense did have a chance for six. Even on their first scoring drive, the Rams’ Marshall Faulk fumbled at the Tampa 5 before they settled for a field goal. As the second quarter began, a bad snap over QB Shaun King’s head gave the Rams a 5-3 lead at half despite the Buccaneers being in Ram territory twice, with King being sacked out of field goal range and being picked off near field goal range with less than two minutes left. In the third quarter, the defensive clinic continued and all Buc fans wondered if we might be about to shock the world. An early 35 yard pass and facemask penalty on Jacquez Green gave the Tampa Bay a 6-5 lead. This would be followed up with a great interception by LB Nickerson and another by Brian Kelly. Indeed, it was awesome to see Tampa doing its own version of the “Bob n Weave” afterwards. Then came a play that I believe was as important as the “Bert Emmanuel” catch. Facing a 4th and 3 at the St. Louis 32, rather than go for the lead with a long field goal, Dungy goes for it and King completes a pass to Warrick Dunn over the middle that goes down to the 19. Unfortunately, the offense was called for delay of game and instead of at least three points, Tampa had to punt. With eight minutes left, Trey Blye picks King off later at the St. Louis 40 on a pass that went through Warrick Dunn’s hands. The stage is set for the dramatic conclusion. On 3rd and 2, with fans on both sides on the edge of their seats, Warner throws almost a vertical and unbelievable pass to Ricky Proehl in the end zone for their only touchdown of the day. CB Kelly was in perfect position along the sideline with Lynch coming over to help but somehow the pass made it into Ricky’s hands. And then comes the controversy. Behind the legs of Alstott and a 20 yard pass to Karl Williams, the Bucs made it to the Ram 23 though they could have gone farther if Williams cuts up the field rather than goes out of bounds. There is 1:30 left, and after a sack, Tampa faces a 2nd and 20 when King hits Bert Emmanuel down the middle, setting up a 3rd and 10 (not a first down as is sometimes now claimed). If Tampa doesn’t call timeout nothing happens, but after they do, the replay official shocks the world by demanding a review and calling what everyone sees as a catch as incomplete. I know the rule, but the call steals a chance for the game to be decided as it should have been on the field. It should be noted however, that without the delay of game penalty, Tampa could have gone for a field goal to send it into overtime (St. Louis would have kicked a PAT to make it 12-9). Between the Super Bowl on the line, and Tampa doing what many considered impossible with a rookie QB and the league’s best offense, the game still ranks as one of the most exciting of all time when taken as a whole despite the bad taste it left in our mouths6) 2002: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (27-10 TB) NFC Championship Game. This is, in my opinion, the team’s biggest win. It was also an exciting game on its own. Everyone knows the hype, and the history going into that game. However, despite the score, what is underappreciated is that this was a very good game on its own. The Eagles did come to play, and were it not for Simeon Rice causing and recovering a fumble in Tampa territory at the end of the first half, the Eagles would have been looking to tie the game with two minutes left. As most people know, Brian Mitchell took the opening kickoff all the way down to Tampa’s 25, where Deuce Staley waltzed in and everyone began thinking that this might be a precursor to what was to come. It wasn’t. Tampa counters with a field goal of their own behind Brad Johnson and a no-huddle offense. The turning point of the game came, ironically, after Eagle CB Bobby Taylor picked of Brad Johnson in Tampa territory. Not only did the Eagles go nowhere, but Johnson would hit Joe Jurveiscius for an 70 yard gain after the punt, allowing Alstott to give our swashbucklers the lead at 10-7. (As Gene Deckerhoff said, “You go Joe!”). The Eagles, starting in Buc territory, did get a field goal after a possible interference call in the end zone was called defensive holding against CB Brian Kelly and the Bucs caught a break. A little later, RB Michael Pittman then catches a wheel route for 32 yards before WR Keyshawn Johnson held on to three passes, including an 8 yard slant route for the TD on a beautifully thrown slant pass. On their turn, McNabb brings his offense down to the Bucs’ 25 with Sapp having stitches in his eye “Rocky” style, but DE Simeon Rice knocks the ball out at the 35 yard line coming around the edge and even picks it up himself at the Tampa 26. This was a critical play, as it prevented the Eagles from being within one score after Tampa converts a field goal in the third quarter. This comes after the Eagles interferes with Barber making a fair catch on an Eagle punt. Rhonde Barber, playing the game of his life, also created a turnover sack on McNabb early in the second half. In a demonstration of how good they were as a team, replays show a receiver wide open down the field which McNabb was going to throw it to. Instead, the Bucs get the ball. (It also helps when TE Todd Pinkston gets called for offensive pass interference after a 22 yard gain on a 50-50 call). With six minutes left and Philly getting desperate, the fans at Veteran’s Stadium still had hope as McNabb began completing passes, moving down the field, and the stadium went crazy after he twisted away out of Sapp’s grasp and with Greg Spires barreling down him, hits Antonio Freeman at the Buccaneers 10 with three minutes left. And then comes the greatest single play in Tampa history. Faking a blitz, CB Rhonde Barber slips back and fools McNabb into throwing a slant, taking it back 94 yards for the Championship clincher. Tampa wins, 27-10, but the game was in doubt all the way until the three minute mark. Who cares? The Vet shuts down with a bully getting taken down.
Ugh you bring up two huge heartbreakers then follow it up with possibly the most satisfying win in team history lol. I watched that Giants game at work. I kept sliding back into the break room to watch it, I was a nervous wreck. What a gut wrenching loss. The Rams game I watched at church, sitting in the back with a tiny little black and white tv in my lap lol. Also, incredibly gut wrenching. Bert Emanuel :(
Regarding excitement you couldn’t ask for much more than either the Giants or Rams game. What stunk about them was simply that the refs took both of them out of the players’ hands. Had we not gotten a touchdown on own for them it would have been a better feeling. The Philly game can be argued to be the most exciting due to what was on the line, obviously. There just were five games that were amazing from start to finish that I couldn't take down, including one that many may not remember.
As a preacher I always loved that VISA commercial with the minister preaching with the headset in his ears. Had we had an evening service and I saw you, I might have sat down beside you and told everyone else to keep going! (Joke) I had stuff going on during the Rams game, I recorded it and stayed up til about 1 am watching the game. Knowing how it ended, my wife didn’t go to sleep, knowing I’d have to vent my feelings. The NFL network ranked that as the 5th most controversial call in history, behind the Oilers non-TD vs. the Steelers in 1979, the Music City Miracle, the Immaculate Reception and one other I can’t remember.
Even if it was ruled a catch we weren’t going to win. The game should have never come to that point. Earlier in the game Dave Moore was all by himself on a busted coverage for what should have been a 50+ yard TD and King threw it 20 feet over his head. Had the 4th and 1 long pass play called back because King didn’t get the play off in time. Should have just kept running and punting, instead they put it his hands and he threw the pick to Bly.
When I saw Miami and the 80s date I thought it was going to be the Bucs win on Monday Night Football vs Miami in 1984. It was my senior year and we were building our float for the homecoming parade. Bucs were NEVER on MNF back then! There was a little TV there and I kept looking over checking the score. Rev, can’t thank you enough for bringing back all these great memories!
Welcome, Todd. Truthfully hadn’t thought about the Dolphins monday nighter but that was an awesome one. I was actually at that game and when Don Strock came in for David Woodley, the whole feel of things turned around. Forget who it was off the top of my head, but remember it came down to a Hail Mary and the defender picked it off for Tampa’s first win of the season. Was tired at school the next day, though.