Since coming into the NFL in 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have only made the Playoffs in 10 seasons. Out of those 10 seasons, the Bucs have played in the Divisional round in five of them.
After making the playoffs. And a road win last week in Washington, Tampa are on the road again this week to face NFC South Rivals, the New Orlean Saints, in the Divisional Round.
Below is a recap of those previous Divisional meetings.
1979 Season – Win
A little more than two years after their historically bad 0-26 start to their NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the playoffs. Finishing the regular season 10-6, the Bucs won the old NFC Central for the first time.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the visitors to a packed Tampa Stadium. Led by one of the top Buccaneer players of all time, Lee Roy Selmon, the Bucs had the number one ranked Defense in the league in 1979. The Defense showed the nation just how good they were as this was Tampa’s first ever nationally televised game.
Holding the Eagles running game to a measly 48 yards, there was no stopping the Bucs running game as Tampa’s MVP Ricky Bell ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. As the Eagles threatened a comeback, Bucs Quarterback Doug Williams threw a touchdown pass to legendary Tight End Jimmie Giles. Tampa ran out 24-17 winners and, incredibly, were only one game away from the Super Bowl.
1981 Season – Loss
After a disappointing 1980 Season, Tampa were back in a Division Playoff game for the second time in three seasons. Winning their Division with a 9-7 record, the reward for the Bucs was a road trip to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were hot going in to the game as they had held their previous six opponents to less that 10 points and Dallas maintained that form into the Divisional game. A record equalling Playoff defeat was dished out to the Bucs in Dallas as the Cowboys ran out 38-0 victors. Tampa never got started and only made it beyond midfield in four possessions in the whole game.
A disappointing defeat for an extremely talented but erratic team, this would be the Buccaneers last Divisional Playoff game for 16 years.
1997 Season – Loss
Tampa’s first Divisional Playoff game since 1981, a trip to Lambeau Field to take on, then NFC Central rivals, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had already swept the Bucs in the regular season and that trend continued into the Playoffs as the Cheeseheads ran out 21-7 winners.
Tampa Quarterback Trent Dilfer was picked off twice as he ended with only 11 completions. The Running game faired just as badly as the Packers limited the Bucs to just 90 yards on the ground.
1999 Season – Win
The Bucs were in the middle of their prime years as the then Washington Redskins tried to spoil the party in Tampa in the Divisional round.
Tampa were slow out the blocks as they found themselves down 3-0 at half time. If Bucs Head Coach Tony Dungy was expecting a reaction at the start of the second half, he was mistaken. Washington Kick Returner Brian Mitchel returned the opening kick-off 100 yards for the score. Later in the third quarter, Washington added a field goal to go up 13-0.
A John Lynch interception seemed to awaken the Bucs from their slumber. A Mike Alstott touchdown run reduced the arrears to six points before a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bucs Quarterback Shaun King in the 4th quarter to give Tampa their first lead of the game.
There was still plenty drama remaining. Washington had a chance to win the game with a last minute 52-yard field goal but a poor snap led to a botched hold and a failed attempt.
2002 Season – Win
Tampa’s last Divisional Playoff game and their most successful season to date. Topping the NFC South with a franchise best 12-4 record. New Head Coach Jon Gruden had his team purring entering the Playoffs.
The Bucs Defense was setting records throughout the regular season. Led by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Simeone Rice, and John Lynch.
Tampa secured the first round bye. Then the Bucs welcomed the San Fransisco 49ers to Raymond James Stadium in front of a partisan crowd.
The Bucs absolutely dominated the 49ers as the number one ranked Defense totally took over this game. Forcing five turnovers. Including two interceptions, the Bucs limited San Fransisco to two field goals. Tampa ran out comfortable 31-6 victors as they marched on to the NFC Championship game.
18 years since their last Divisional Playoff game, Tampa fans are eagerly anticipating this weekend’s match-up. The Bucs have played five Divisional Playoff games throughout their history. With a 3-2 record, the Bucs will be hoping to be sitting at 4-2 come the early hours of Monday morning.
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