Lee Roy saves the play-offs not once but twice…the whole team helps a rookie QB win his first game, and an expansion team pushes a power to its limits. All this is included in this chaper of the most exciting Buc games of all time. Please be aware I will be in Florida until next Sunday, so it will be a week before the series is finished. As always, hope this brings back some memories or helps others learn a little about our past.15) 2009: Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (38-28 TB). In the first ever throwback game for Tampa Bay, the Bucs brought back “Bucco Bruce” in style with a 38-28 win over Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers. The game marked Josh Freeman’s first start with his 0-7 team, but everybody stepped up to make a “w” possible. The team had an inau**CENSORED**ious start, with a Rogers to Jones 74 yard strike, followed later by a 34 yard strike. In between these, though, CB Elbert Mack grabbed an interception to set up a short TD drive, and later Geno Hayes blocks a Packer punt that CB Rhonde Barbe returns for a score, keeping Tampa in the game at 21-17. In the second half, Tampa came within inches of sacking Aaron Rogers in the end zone for a safety, but instead Green Bay looked to be in control in the fourth after the Packer QB ran 13 yards in for 6 points. Just when hope seemed to be slipping away, Clifton Smith returns the kick off down to the Pack 17 to set up a touchdown, then the Bucs score yet again following a nice catch by WR Michael Clayton and a 4th down conversion that hits paydirt by Sammy Slaughter. Finding itself behind, Green Bay goes to the air, only to find Safety Tanard Jackson taking it the other way 34 yards. In this exciting upset, if this wasn’t a team win, then there is no such thing. 14) 1996: Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17-14 TB (OT). Credited as the turnaround win for the Buccaneers back in the late 1990’s, this one had some drama. Getting the football first, Tampa Bay marched 78 yards and using over nine minutes in firing off the first shot when Eric Rhett caught a short TD pass from Dilfer. The Raiders, on the other hand, started the 2nd quarter off with their own TD on a halfback pass following a turnover in Tampa territory. Both teams went back and forth, with each team getting an interception in its own red zone (LB Nickerson got the one for the Bucs). In the second half, the Raiders would take the lead on a Hostetler pass to Hobbs, but thanks in part to a bad personal foul call against DE Andre Bruce on 3rd down, back came the pirates of orange on a 2 yard sweep by the number seven player in Buc history, the A-Train. Finally, with but a minute left, Oakland appeared to have beaten back a valiant effort by “Bucco” after a pass interference on the TB 10 gave kicker Cole Ford a chance to put the game away with 8 seconds left. Signaling to the NFL that a change was taking place, however, the football gods caused him to miss the 21 yarder, and off we went to overtime. Then, with 6 minutes remaining, the A-Train rumbled down the field on a catch for 20 yards, allowing Michael “Como’ Esta’” Husted to punch in the win. Going on to win 5 of their last seven games, the Bucs’ road to being winners and champions had begun, and it began in a very exciting way.13) 1978: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams (26-23 LA). Just because a game is lost doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredible. In 1978, Tampa came in to Los Angeles to face the then best team in league, a team that had beaten the eventual 14-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. One year earlier, they’d beaten the Bucs 31-0, and had already attained more wins that season than Tampa had in its history. On this day, however, they had all they could handle. The Rams came out swinging behind QB Pat Haden and RB Lawrence McCutcheon even as the #2 defense in the league gave everything up grudgingly. The Rams went up 10-0 after a fake field goal went in for six. Sadly, QB Williams had his jaw broken and was forced to leave the game, but back-up Mike Rae came in and filled in admirably… didn’t look like it at the beginning, though, with Haden hitting WR Billy Waddy to give L.A. a 17-3 lead near the end of the half. Tampa Bay had squandered a 1st and goal following a 66 yd halfback pass to WR Morris Owens, then compounded their problems with a roughing the kicker penalty to set up the Haden to Waddy bomb. Behind 95 yards rushing by Rae and a 22 yard run by Ricky Bell, Tampa actually had a chance to take the lead after a recovered fumble on a kickoff but threw an interception in the Ram end zone down 20-16. Continuing to fight, though, the Bucs tied the game at 23-23 with a minute left on an amazing 4th down 33 yard catch by the son of the coach Johnny McKay, who beat double coverage in the promised land! Suffering a rare breakdown, sadly, the defense gave up a 70 yard scramble to Haden which allowed Los Angeles to win as time expired. As Buc fans walked away, however, the overall feeling they had was “what a game” and “look how far we’ve come.”12) 1981: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (20-17 TB). In a winner-take-all showdown for the NFC Central title, Tampa handed the Detroit Lions their only loss at home for the season. Though they did not dominate the game, they moved efficiently and productively. They key point in the game came with the Lions driving in the second quarter inside the Bucs’ red zone looking to go up 14-3. Instead, LB Cecil Johnson picked off an Eric Hipple pass and even though he fumbled, fortunately the ball somehow went all the way out of bounds from the middle of the field. One play later, Doug Williams hit WR Kevin House in stride for an 84 yard touchdown which I believe is currently the third longest pass in Tampa’s history. In the third quarter, Lion K Eddie Murray missed a short FG which would prove crucial, and Buc K Capece did put one through to give the Bucs a 13-10. Following it up, DE Lee Roy Selmon stripped Hipple of the football on their next possession, and NT Dave Logan took it one handed across the goal line for a comfortable 10 point lead. Comfortable, until Detroit marched furiously down the field and seemed to have scored when the ball was put right into WR Freddie Scott’s hands. In a tremendous swing of momentum, however, the ball pops out of Scott’s hands before he hits the ground and falls directly into the lap of S Cedric Brown. Suddenly, the Bucs are in the driver’s seat again, especially as they literally run the ball down to the Lions’ 32 yard line. With two minutes left in the game, though, they are stopped on 4th down on a strange rollout call by Coach McKay. One minute later, the Lions have made it 20-17 and the whole season comes down to an onside kick. Never one to make things easy, the Bucs’ onside kick team does muff the ball, resulting in mad dash scramble and pile up at the Detroit 45. Gordon Jones came up with it, and Tampa wins its second ever division crown.11) 1982: Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24-23 TB). This here is the most exciting game I have ever gotten to see in person. In a must-win position, Tampa Bay took on Chuck Knoll’s Buffalo Bills along with (future Buc) QB Joe Ferguson and RB Joe Cribbs. Buffalo wasted no time in letting everyone know they wanted this game, converting a fake field into a first down on their opening drive before going in for a touchdown but K Herrera misses the extra point. Both defenses came to play, with nine turnovers total in the game, five in the first quarter alone. In the first quarter, Williams is picked off in the endzone. Following another pick in the third quarter, Buffalo scored another touchdown on a Roosevelt Leaks 4 yard run up the middle, to which the Bucs countered with a touchdown of their own after a 42 pass to Kevin House. RB Melvin Carver got his second TD of the game to start the 4th quarter to add to the lead. Overcoming a Hugh Green interception, the Bills scored to make it 24-23 and then began a march that seemingly would win them the game and put Tampa out of the play-offs. It was here that Lee Roy Selmon made another of his Hall of Fame plays. With the Bills already in field goal range, Selmon hit Roosevelt Leaks right on the ball at the Tampa 17, causing a fumble which Cedric Brown recovered and Tampa wins in a wild one at the Big Sombrero.
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