Great Games in Bucs History: Week 16 1979 - Tampa Bay 3, Kansas City 0

TAMPA, FL - FILE: Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon is inducted into the Buccanners Ring of Honor at halftime of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Green Bay Packers at Raymond James Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Tampa, Florida. It was reported that former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Lee Roy Selmon has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke September 3, 2011. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

They had gone from the Cinderella Buccaneers to the "Chokeneers". In just three weeks, the Buccaneers saw their three game lead in the race for the NFC Central Division Championship evaporate.

With the Chicago Bears breathing down their necks - it came down to one game. Win and you claim your first division championship. Lose and your fates are decided by the football gods.

As if it wasn't enough pressure, the sky opened with a hurricane like amount of precipitation the likes of which had never been seen in Tampa Stadium.

There were rivers of water pour down the stadium steps.

63,624 spectators arrived at the game. Few of them would be there at the end.

It would take a legendary, herculean effort by the vaunted Bucs defense and running game to complete Tampa Bay's Worst to First rise.

Tampa Bay's opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs had completed their schedule in the rugged AFC West, sweeping playoff contenders Seattle and Oakland while fighting for their first non-losing season since 1973. All that stood in the way of their personal triumph was the upstart lovable losers.

The Bucs were in the mother of terrible slumps. They lost in Minnesota because of four blocked field goals, they were shut out by the Bears and lost to the 1-13 San Francisco 49ers 23-7.

From 9-3 to 9-6 and clinging by their fingernails on the edge of their playoff lives.

So when Lee Roy Selmon, Doug Williams and the rest of the Buccaneers looked out and saw the swamp that was the Tampa Stadium turf, they surely thought they had arrived in Perdition.

The monsoon made passing just about impossible, so Tampa Bay pounded running backs Ricky Bell and Jerry Eckwood 52 times at the Kansas City defense. Even quarterback Doug Williams got into the act, adding another 7 bootleg runs at the Bucs controlled 40:22 of the clock.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs were going nowhere fast. Even when the Kansas City defense intercepted Doug Williams and set them up at the Tampa Bay 34, Kansas City couldn't take advantage, settling for a 39 yard field goal attempt that was blocked by Lee Roy Selmon.

Tampa Bay's defense took the ball away from Kansas City twice, as Richard "Batman" Wood intercepted one pass and recovered a fumble. Selmon, Randy Crowder and safety Mark Cotney would each register sacks.

The Chiefs were held to just 80 yards of total offense.

Yet, in the fourth quarter the game still hung in the balance.

Finally, the Buccaneers offense would make some plays. Two big passes by Williams to TE Jimmie Giles set up the Bucs deep in Chiefs territory.

From there, Ricky Bell and Jerry Eckwood pounded their way down to the Kansas City 2 yard line.

It was a 13 play, 63 yard drive that bled 6:49 off the final quarter game clock.

The game - the season - came down to the foot of Neil O'Donohue. O'Donohue had been struggling, having a field goal attempt muffed by the holder earlier in the game after a few weeks earlier seeing four of his kicks be blocked.

The monsoon hadn't let up, making everything a lake of football frustration. Despite a low snap from longsnapper Steve Wilson, holder Tom Blanchard got the ball down and O'Donohue converted on the 19 yard attempt.

Kansas City would go three and out on the ensuing drive, then never see the football again.

"We could have played in overtime, we could have played all month, and Kansas City would not have scored," punt returner and reserve defensive back Danny Reece had said.

As the Bucs celebrated, those loyal fans who braved the elements got to see the first division championship in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.

It was worst to first for the 1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it was time to party.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucs Nation

You must be a member of Bucs Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Nation. You should read them.

Join Bucs Nation

You must be a member of Bucs Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Nation. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.