Were following the 30th anniversary of the very first playoff team in Bucs history, the magical worst to first 1979 season. Only two years removed from its 0-26 start, the Bucs ended up a touchdown and FG away from the SuperBowl, not to return so close for over 20 years.
The Bucs had just lost to the Falcons to bring their record down to 7-3, remarkable since their last records were 0-14, 2-14, and 5-11! The traveled to detroit to take on the Lions who were having a really bad year with injuries right off the bat to the QB position. It was this bad year that enabled them to take their first #20 running back from Oklahoma with the initials B. S.; Billy Sims. But Sims was no help on this day for the Lions while helping his Big 8 teammates. Detroit played the Bucs well, but Tampa Bay caught fire late, overcoming a 14-6 deficit with only 5 minutes to play. You see the Bucs were a big play team. Their QB Doug Williams was not a high percentage passer, as really no QB back then were. You had only one West Coast Offense in the league, and that was in its first year! Williams would heave the ball downfield and would complete a bomb once in a while. But he rarely took a sack, and sacrificed his stats for the good of the team. He wasnt even sacked 10 times in 1979, a remarkable stat even today.
A 14 play 73 yard drive capped off with a Neil O'Donoghue FG, and a Bucs fumble recovery two plays later, set up Larry Mucker for the game winning 23 yard TD with only 3 minutes to spare. The Bucs were 8-3, and ending a three game road trip 2-1, and heading home to face the poorly Giants who at 0-5 had beaten the Bucs in New Jersey when the Bucs were 5-0. This time, things would be different.
Safety Cedric Brown was similar to Tanard Jackson in his hitting ability, ball hawking skills, and frame.
WEEK 12- NEW YORK GIANTS AT TAMPA BAY-
A cool November day and a 4PM start is all I remember of this game. That and not being able to watch it on TV because it was blacked out (as were a lot of games back then. Bucs fans, this is when fans of our area laid the foundation for becoming a football town that we are today). I listed to the game on 1250, WDAE. Thats right, WDAE was the Bucs station even back then. The mascot was called the BAAAAAAD BUC!
This game was no contest from the beginning. A Larry Mucker TD grab and linebacker David Lewis' 39 yard fumble recovery for a TD was really all that was needed, but the Bucs poored on more in the second half en-route to a 31-3 win, the Biggest ever for the young 4 year old franchise at the time.
Wouldn't be the last time a Simms played in Tampa!
So Tampa Bay set itself up at 9-3 as one of the best teams in the National Football League. They had a weak schedule, but they beat the LA Rams at home, and handled a lot of teams on the way to where they are. They set themselves up so well, that all they needed to do now, was win one game. Thats right. Win any one game of the next four, and they are in the playoffs. Sounds like 2008? The results were not all that dissimilar!
See you next week!