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Season by Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1980

The agony of being so close to the Super Bowl bled over into the 80's, and the Bucs stumbled on defense in a disappointing follow-up to the magical '79 season.


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.

We move now to the 1980 season, which saw the Bucs stumble and fall as they tried to recapture the magic of the 1979 campaign.

Season Recap

Record: 5-10-1

Points scored: 271 (23rd in NFL)

Points against: 341 (20th in NFL)

Offensive MVP: Doug Williams - 3396 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. 370 yards rushing, 4 touchdowns.

Most Yards per Reception: Rookie Kevin House- 22.1 yards per catch.

Most Sacks: Lee Roy Selmon - 9 (per BucPower)

Key Games

Payback: 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams, Week 2. A one-yard fourth quarter touchdown run by Doug Williams put the Bucs ahead of the Rams, who eliminated them in a 9-0 victory in the NFC Championship game the year before. The Bucs moved to 2-0 after the game, and seemed to be well on their way to another impressive season. But...

Offensive Defense: 38-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Week 11. The Bucs gained over 500 yards of total offense and posted 30 points, but it wasn't enough as the battered and bruised defense allowed a big day from Viking QB Tommy Kramer en route to a shootout victory. The performance prompted defensive coordinator Tom Bass to say "When you give up 38 points your (defensive) coach ought to be shot, not injured," with the injury referring to a gash on his leg sustained during the game.

Major Storylines

Doug Williams took another step forward and posted impressive performances in 1980, but the defense couldn't carry the team as it did in 1979, and broke down physically over the course of the season. As a result, the Buccaneers couldn't repeat their accomplishments from the previous season.

John McKay said that his defense didn't show the same intensity they did the previous year during training camp, and that he was concerned about the arrogance his players were showing on that side of the ball. In summarizing the team's play that season, the Bucs' coach noted that many players on both sides of the ball didn't live up to expectations, and conceded that injuries played a role in the disappointing performances as well.

On the other hand, McKay was thrilled with the play of Doug Williams, who was hardly the most efficient player at his position in the NFL, but who created big plays all season long and took a huge step in the right direction compared to his previous seasons. In particular, Williams threw for 788 yards and 7 touchdowns in back-to-back games against the Steelers and Vikings, but neither game resulted in a Tampa Bay victory.

This prompted defensive coordinator Tom Bass to admit "He's probably played the best two games he's ever had, and we haven't given him any help." The Buccaneer defense wasn't good enough to provide Williams a chance to win during the two best games of his young career.

The season ended with a three-game losing streak, and buried the Bucs in the basement of the NFC Central. But with better draft picks and an offseason to get healthy, could McKay and company turn things around next year?