Season By Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1976

J. Meric

In the first part of our series leading up to training camp, we take a look at the Bucs' first season in franchise history.

Before the start of training camp and the official kickoff of the 2014 Buccaneers season, Bucs Nation will take you through every season in Buccaneers history, one by one, to paint the whole picture of how the Buccaneers got to where they are today.

Let's begin with the Buccaneers' first season, one that lived in infamy for years for the unique accomplishment of failing to win a game.

Season Recap

Record: 0-14

Points scored: 125 (last in NFL)

Points against: 412 (second to last in NFL)

Leading passer: Steve Spurrier - 1628 yards, 7 touchdowns, 12 interceptions

Leading rusher: Louis Carter - 171 carries for 521 yards, 1 touchdown

Most interceptions: Mark Cotney - 3 interceptions

Key Games

Closest to victory: 13-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. A Morris Owens 3rd quarter touchdown got the Bucs within 3 of the would-be 2-12 Seahawks, but they couldn't find a winner.

Worst loss: 42-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13. Rocky Bleier scored three rushing touchdowns for the Steelers as the Bucs could only manage 11 net passing yards.

Major Storylines

The Buccaneers spent their first season in the NFL in the AFC West, with the Seattle Seahawks playing in the NFC Central. Both teams were 1976 expansion teams, and would swap divisions for the 1977 season.

The AFC West was certainly unkind to the young Bucs, who failed to win a game under head coach John McKay. Among the many memorable quotes from the humorously honest head coach was his observation that the team "Didn't block, but we made up for it by not tackling." His comment was in response to the team's first ever preseason game, and the subsequent release of 15 players who were unfit to stay on the roster after their debuts for McKay's team.

Unfortunately, apart from top draft pick Lee Roy Selmon and a handful of other decent contributors, McKay didn't have much to work with on his roster, especially on offense. The Bucs did earn a preseason win against the Atlanta Falcons, but during the 14 games that counted during the regular season, they couldn't find a victory, coming only as close as a 13-10 loss to their expansion-mates Seattle and a week later falling a field goal short of in-state rivals Miami.

That game against Miami was the only time the Buccaneers would score 20 points during a game that season, finishing 40 points shy of the next worst offensive team that year, and ending up with below 50% of the average point production of an NFL offense that year.

The Buccaneers earned the first overall pick in the 1977 draft for their efforts, as they were the only team since the merger to lose every game, and would remain the only team to do so until the Lions lost all 16 in 2008.

Overall, it was an inauspicious start for a franchise with its fair share of disappointment since.

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