The Bucs take down one of the great teams of all time, handing them their only loss of the regular season, and then two years later they learn that revenge is dish best served cold but only when your running back and quarterback are hot. Here they are, the two most exciting games in Buccaneers history!2) 1998: Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1998, after losing an awful game to the Saints, Tampa was 3-4 and facing a daunting situation: have their season go down in flames or somehow beat the undefeated Minnesota Vikings. In ’98, the Vikes would go 15-1 and their only other loss would come in a Championship Game they dominated until K Gary Anderson missed his first FG of the season. In 7 weeks, Tampa had not scored an offensive touchdown in the first half, but on this day, much would change. WR Anthony takes the opening kickoff to the 36 before being tackled by the kicker Mitch Berger, then Dilfer, scrambling to his left finds Dunn cutting across to the sideline for 17 yards. Knowing he will need points, Dungy goes for it on 4th and 8 from Minnesota’s 33, having Dilfer hit Dunn (a lot of D’s) on the safety valve. Dunn would top off the drive with a 12 yard scamper around the left end. Yes, they had come to play. The game would go back and forth, however. Randall Cunnigham, that year’s NFL MVP, leads his purple gang down the field with ease, culminating with an 8 yard draw to Robert Smith. The pirate ship was rocking, though, with Dilfer again finding Dunn an 11 yard buttonhook route. Alstott also looked tough, running over three defenders after a short pass completion. A 4 yard touchdown was called back for the A-Train, but on the next play, WR Rediel Anthony was left absolutely wide open at the back of the end zone. His dance was never very good, but it did put Tampa back on top. Minnesota then converts their own 4th down try, then ties it up on plays that showed why they were so good that year. On 2nd and 17, Cunningham lofts and bomb to WR Tate that beats triple coverage and is only incomplete because of a sensational play by John Lynch after Tate had caught it. Not deterred, Cunningham does it again versus double coverage, this time placing the ball perfectly between Kelly and Lynch (who were right there), and the score is tied again. Following a 55 yard Dunn run on the draw play and a terrible offensive pass interference call that nullifies a 21-14 lead, Husted splits the upright with the Vikings bizarrely calling timeout with 24 seconds left. At least it seemed bizarre until a Buc defender jumps a short route and lets Randy Moss catch a 40 yarder down the right sideline. The score would be tied at 17-17 at the half. It wouldn’t stay that way, as Minnesota takes the second half kickoff in for six more. Cunningham went to Reed again for 23 yards on 3rd and 9, and then, using David Palmer as a decoy that causes John Lynch to vacate his area, Reed is open in the middle on a nice over the shoulder pass. Not down about losing the lead, Tampa drives back to the Viking five. Dunn just makes a third down conversion against a great play by DT John Randle and Alstott, behind great blocking, took the “Rhino” package up the middle for 12 more. Facing a 4th and goal from the 5 however, Dilfer misses an open Emmanuel on a fade route and misfires to Anthony. With the Vikings getting the ball back, it seems like a turning point in the game. It was, but things would turn towards the pirates of pewter. Monte Kiffin starts blitzing Cunningham and the strategy pays off big time. First, LB Al Singleton hits Randall as he is throwing the ball, allowing Derrick Brooks to pick it off. Even though Tampa settles for a FG, it’s a game once again. On Minnesota’s next possession, Brooks and Barber run a stunt blitz of all things to take down Cunningham for the game’s first sack and the Bucs are fired up with the game’s first punt (coming with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter). First, Tampa converts on a 3rd and 2 with Trent Dilfer running as fast as he can to make both the distance needed and the sideline. This is followed by Bert Emmanuel dropping a TD put into his hands on a great endzone pass at the field’s edge, but Alstott comes through behind a block by Lorenzo Neil and the A-Train steamrolling over LB Hitchcock. With 5:20 remaining Minnesota has both the ball and the league’s best offense, but are down 27-24. They’d stay that way. WR Chris Carter catches a 20 yard crossing pattern but is called for tossing John Lynch (who was covering) to the ground as he went by him. Then on third down, the blue collar man Brad Culpepper takes the Viking quarterback down, grabbing him and rolling as fast as he could. Getting the ball back at midfield, the game is sealed with two minutes left when Alstott, rumbling up the middle and holding onto the ball with both hands goes all the way down to the 10. As far as I know, this is the only game in which two Buccaneers gain 100 yards rushing. Randy Moss, who had yet to suffer a defeat, is seen throwing his helmet down pouting, but for Tampa, it showed the world who this team could be when it played to its potential. In my opinion, this game marks the best all-around game the Buccaneers have played in team history. Al la Rocky Balboa against Ivan Drago, incredibly, the giant was taken down. 1) 2000: St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (38-35 TB) On Monday Night Football, in a Championship Game rematch, the Bucs and Rams met with the winner going to the play-offs and the loser in serious trouble. Oddsmakers had the “greatest show on turf” favored to take us down, but it wasn’t meant to be in an incredible game that was anything but an 11-6 defensive showdown. It actually did start like the Championship Game, with Rhonde Barber intercepting QB Kurt Warner on the third play from scrimmage to set up a Grammatica field goal. On the Bucs’ second possession, however, Trey Blye returned the favor by intercepting King on a long sideline route that wasn’t a good pass but WR Jacquez Green did nothing to keep it from happening except watch. This time, St. Louis did its thing, with a pinpoint 23 yard pass going to Holt that went just over Derrick Brooks’ arms. Faulk would score from two yards out, the first of four he’d get on the night. Shaun King, in the best night of his career, then hit WR Keyshawn Johnson for 30. King rolled to his right, and then threw the pass that Trent Dilfer could never complete, hitting #19 as he cut out to the far left of the field. Johnson also catches a slant route, breaks a tackle, and then goes for 23 more yards before RB Dunn jukes outside on an inside play for two yards and six points. Ricky Proehl comes back to haunt Tampa again, catching a ball for 38 yards on the post pattern that goes right between Brooks and Lynch. Faulk would score again, going up the middle for 16 yards on a play that he’d not be down for had they played two hand touch. However, as it would go all night, back come the Buccaneers. Against man to man coverage, Shaun King dropped back but then is able to run for 19 yards down to his right, and later he gets Keyshawn the damn ball after Johnson split the middle of the Rams’ zone coverage for nine yards to put the Bucs on top again. Before throwing it, King did a nice job of side stepping LB London Fletcher on the blitz. Tampa would go ahead by 10 points after DT Warren Sapp sticks his helmet right into Warner’s chest and flattens him. The Rams run a blitz, allowing Dunn to gain 23 on a flare pattern, and then going against more man coverage, Keyshawn beats his man again. King takes advantage, hitting him in stride and as Al Michaels stated. “The Bucs lead 24-14, controlling the pace of the game at the Rams’ pace.” Tampa is stopped on its first third quarter drive, but the hard hitting continues, with Eric Vance crushing Isaac Bruce, lifting him up and smacking him down. Never to be outdone on hitting, John Lynch shows how it’s done. Even as Faulk gained 20 yards by running to daylight, Lynch decleats him in his tracks. Said Dennis Miller, “he went to daylight and found he was in the wrong tunnel.” Damien Robinson steps in front of the next pass through reading Kurt’s eyes to end the drive. Warner did read the defense correctly the next time he got the ball, for after CB Abraham misses a pick, he spots Chidi Ahanotu covering Marshall Faulk man on man in one of the 10 worst match-ups in NFL history and tosses an easy 21 yard strike. Karl Williams returns the kickoff to the 49 at which point Dennis Miller says, “Hey boys…the 4th quarter is ours!” “The fourth quarter is 4 seconds away,” Michael replies. Boy, did we take advantage of those four seconds! Catching a lateral along the right sideline, Warrick Dunn has Mike Williams make a terrible effort at tackling him, and speeds all the way down, dancing into the end zone for 51 yards. Tampa is ahead 31-21. “Well,” said Miller. “There was a lot more action left in the third quarter than I would have thought.” No kidding! Continuing the offensive onslaught, St. Louis wastes no time in going back downfield as they play catch up. First, Holt catches another post for 27 yards, which Ricky Phroel builds upon with a 24 yard curl pattern. Then it is back to Holt for a 15 yard completion which amusingly puts him between Brooks legs, causing Brooks to ride him horseback style for a couple of seconds before he wiggles off. Faulks tops it off by becoming the first player with four touchdown runs in three separate games. Tampa should have responded with six of its own. It was right there but not meant to be. Sitting back in the pocket literally the same amount of time it takes Joey Chesnutt to eat two hot dogs and possibly ordering a pizza beforehand, King hits Jacquez Green on the right sideline 28 yards away, at which point Green is nailed into a great camera angle. Dunn then goes around the left side for 29 yards with the whole Ram team playing chase before pushed him out at the 1…if only Dunn could have made it one more yard. On first down, TE Dave Moore misjudges an easy touchdown pass in the back left corner of the end zone. On third down, King locks in on Keyshawn despite double coverage. With the ball being tipped, CB McLellan is in perfect position to make the pick and save the St. Louis Rams’ play-off hopes. Not only does Tampa not put the game away, two plays later they are in the hole, with Holt hitting yet another post where the defender falls down. As he sees John Lynch in the middle, Holt angles out towards the far pylon, where he beats everyone and the Rams are ahead. Things look even worse for Sapp and the boys when on their next 3rd down, Dave Moore is wide open on a down and out but King locks in on Keyshawn despite his being double covered again and we fail to convert. St. Louis, however, despite its earlier success through the air, opts to run it three times to use up Tampa’s time outs. The strategy backfires, even as it was a sound one, on a bizarre turn of events. Facing a 2nd and 10, Kings goes to the swing pass out to Dunn again, only this time LB Fletcher is there to bring him down. He would have, had Shaun King not been yelling for the ball. Dunn flips it back as he goes down, at which point King sprints down field for 15 yards and gets another 15 when LB McIntyre hits him late! Suddenly hope is alive and well. Of course, things get tense when Jacquez Green drops a beautiful pass on a go route that goes right over the defender’s hands. Things get more tense when Keyshawn drops a beautiful slant pass that is put right into his lap on third down. Then on 4th down and the play-offs on the line, things get most tense when King goes back and then sprints to the first down marker with LB London Fletcher diving at his ankles, tripping him up. He does so, but can’t before King leaps pass the marker and we have a fresh start. Easy catches having been missed, WR Anthony decides to twist and turn to make a spectacular 15 yard reception at the four. On second down, everyone is expecting a pass. Thinking the same, Dungy calls for Warrick Dunn to run to his left. Seeing an opening, he cuts it in and jumps in from his three yard line. Landing on his head, Dunn jumps up with his hands to the heaven screaming before dropping to his knees. The Bucs are just might pull this out! St. Louis would run two more plays. On play number one, Isaac Bruce forgets that you can’t catch the ball with your hands around your neck, as he is wide open for a possible 80 yard touchdown strike on yet ANOTHER post pattern. Bruce looks upfield before he catches a laser of a pass, therefore letting the ball fall to the ground. Oh my goodness! On play number two, John Lynch would show him how to do it right, intercepting Warner’s ball at midfield, falling on the ground, and every Buc fan and player goes crazy. Tampa is in the play-offs, revenge is had, the defending Super Bowl Champions look to be knocked out of the play-offs, and the most exciting game in Tampa history finishes in glorious fashion.And thus ends what I consider to be the 25 Most Exciting Games in Buccaneers History. Hope you enjoyed them.
The title game was incredible, which is why I did have it number six. I just remember watching both of these on the absolute edge of my seat. When Dunn tossed the ball to King, who took it in for the first down, the whole thing turned around. Fanofit, I was just happy that someone else remembered the ’86 Bills game. That was the one I thought I might catch flack from.
The NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl in 2002 were my two most exciting moments of my sports spectating life (other than watching the Lightning lift the Stanley Cup live). With that said, we’re talking about thrilling games. Nothing beats that Rams Monday Nighter. What a game….
Yeah, there’s a difference between my favorite wins (the top two are pretty obvious….) and the most exciting games. We beat Philly by 17 (had a 10 pt lead before that pick 6) so it’s hard to say that game was more exciting of a game than the Rams game. It was a more exciting WIN because of what it meant but it wasn’t as stressful/edge of your seat as the Rams game.
The title game was incredible, which is why I did have it number six. I just remember watching both of these on the absolute edge of my seat. When Dunn tossed the ball to King, who took it in for the first down, the whole thing turned around. Fanofit, I was just happy that someone else remembered the '86 Bills game. That was the one I thought I might catch flack from.
No one at that game would give you flack for the Buffalo game"s inclusion. truly one of the greatest games ever. I remember adult men jumping into each other's arms when the game was sealed.
Bro, the time we beat the Eagles to win the NFC Championship is by far the most exciting game in our team's history. This is not an opinion. It is a fact without question.
while the NFCC carried more significance, i can't say it was more exciting than the Rams game. That atmosphere that Monday Night was like no other game i've ever attended.
I agree Hate, I thought the 2000 Rams game showed the world that the Bucs should (imo) have beat the Greatest Show on Turf in the 99 champ game. I also really liked the Bucs vs Iggles in the first game at the Linc, moreso because I thought (iirc) that was one of the first games that a team winning the NFC championship played their first game on the road. Maybe it was more me thinking that everyone else was riding the G.S.O.T Rams jockstrap, but those two games were very gratifying/exciting to me, because of my own sense of lack of respect for the Bucs.
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