This is it folks. IN a few days, you will hear the names called out. You will see Lee Roy Selmon get put in the Ring of Honor. You will hear about the excitement over the 1979 Buccaneers. Well in this series (which you can go back and find each past installment) I have gone over week by week on how the Buccaneers exploded onto the scene, dealt with a few losses, got back on track, and are now dealing with a catastrophic 3 game losing streak that now has them on the brink of either elimination or championship! Slip up and make a mistake, and the Bears will win the crown, and you will get booed out of the playoffs after a 9-3 start (sound familiar 2009 fans???)
Jon Gruden was just a baby, and his dad was still years away from becoming running backs coach. Instead, it would be up to John McKay to get his troups to wake up...and wake up they did...to the sound of thunderstorms! A torential rainfall fell upon Tampa Stadium like never seen before! This video clip is from NFL films top ten 'worst weather games'...
More Videos and Story continues after the Jump....
The Bucs won on a FG, and won the NFC Central Division Championship- only two years after going 0-26! Only in their 4th year of exisitance, with NO free agency, NO extra draft picks..just building from the draft. The Bucs wound up with a first round bye, and would play the winner of the Chicago @ Philadlephia Wild Card Playoff game. The Eagles had been knocked out of the playoffs in 1978, so they were out to improve. The Bears, they needed a miracle to get in, and that they got in the form of a Bucs 3 game losing streak and 4 game one for Chicago. That all ended in Philaldelphia, would would be coming to Tampa for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Bucs players and coaches got wind that Philadelphia players had already booked their tickets and luggage for Dallas for the next week. In player interviews, Eagles explained how they felt they were as good as all the other playoff teams, like the LA Rams and the Cowboys, whom they had beaten once. But notice how they didnt mention Tampa Bay? They probably overlooked the Bucs, and it showed right off the bat. An 8:00+ drive and Ricky Bell hammered home a TD for a 7-0 lead. It would be 17-0 before the Eagles knew what happened, and they were lucky to be down only 17-7 at the half. Trading Touchdowns in the second half, the Eagles last attempt fell short, and the Bucs were to move on to the NFC Championship game, which they thought would be at Dallas.
The Eagles/ Bucs playoff game was on Saturday. Sunday at 4PM, the Bucs players watched as the Cowboys hosted the Rams. Bucs fans wanted a Ram win, as the Bucs would host the next game, and Bucs had beated the Rams 21-6 in week 4. Late in the playoff game, Rams had the ball with a few minutes left, but got no pressure on Vince Ferragamo. He completed a pass over the middle and Billy Waddy took it all the way for a touchdown and a miraculous 21-19 victory over the Cowboys, setting up an improbably location for the NFC Championship game... TAMPA BAY!
The game sold out in hours, and Bucs fans camped out all night long in the cold weather to wait to get tickets.
The Championship game was on a Sunday, with the 1:00 game featuring the Houston Oilers at Pittsburgh Steelers, and a controversial call hovered over that game as Mike Renfro appeared to have caught a TD pass that was ruled incomplete. It made no difference, the Steelers at that time were simply Super.
But now the 4:00 game had come, and the excitement in the area was unbelievable. Picture how 2002 was, but think...the Bucs fans believed we could and should win this game, unlike that '02 Philly game.
The Rams pretty much dominated the game though. The Bucs were quite lucky to only lose 9-0. Several Rams TDs were called back on penalties as they settled for FGs instead. Even the Bucs had a TD called back once Mike Rae QBed the Bucs because Doug Williams suffered a torn Biceps muscle in the game.
The Bucs had a chance to kick a long FG but didn't, and on a trick play, Jerry Eckwood passed downfield to Larry Mucker, but the pass was slightly under thrown. Had it not been, we would have scored on that play easily.
The game is re-lived here by those that played it.
In 1999, Doug Williams and Lee Roy Selmon were honorary Captains in St. Louis to play the Rams. And now, celebrating 10 years since that epic game, I hope you enjoy the game Sunday, and enjoy the familiarity of the names mentioned in this series if you've never heard them before, or bask in sound of them Sunday if you remember them like I do.