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Season by Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1988

The Buccaneers got the NFL Draft right in 1988, but that was about it...

Paul Gruber was one of the few 80's draft picks the Bucs got right.
Paul Gruber was one of the few 80's draft picks the Bucs got right.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

In this installment, we take a look at Ray Perkins' second year in charge, 1988.

Season Recap

Record: 5-11 (3rd in NFC Central)

Points scored: 261 (22nd in NFL)

Points against: 350 (19th in NFL)

A Rough Season for Vinny: The Buccaneers didn't get a great return on investment from Vinny Testaverde, who would later say admit "My career started out a little rough in Tampa,'' according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune. Vinny threw 35 interceptions to only 13 touchdowns during the 1988 season, but with Steve DeBerg no longer in town to pick up the slack, the Bucs stuck with their former first overall selection despite his awful performances.

Dual Receiving Threats: Despite not having the best quarterback in the league, the Bucs did have a pretty strong duo of receivers, as Bruce Hill and Mark Carrier combined for 14 of the team's 16 receiving scores, and almost two-thirds of the team's receiving yards.

Hat Trick of Wins for the Kicker: Donald Igwebuike would prove to be an important player for the Bucs in 1988, as the man who would be the highest scorer in team history until the late 90's would kick three game-winning fourth quarter field goals.

Key Games

Donald's First Clutch Moment: On a windy day in Green Bay, Donald Igwebuike admitted that he "didn't try to adjust for the wind," but still knocked home the game-winner to lift the Bucs over their rivals from the north, 13-10. This Week 2 win propelled the Bucs to 1-1, but there were still more questions than answers moving forward.

Vinny's Finest Moment: Despite posting only the second 400-yard game in franchise history for a quarterback (and one of only four to this day), Vinny Testaverde would also throw two interceptions and the Bucs would fall victim to Eric Dickerson yet again, this time with the Colts. The 35-31 loss during Week 7 dropped the Bucs to 2-5, and signaled yet another year of frustration for Buccaneer fans.

Major Storylines

The Buccaneers finally got a draft pick right!

For the first time in quite a while, the Buccaneers kept their first round pick, and with it selected a franchise player, grabbing tackle Paul Gruber with the fourth pick of the 1988 Draft.

But apart from adding a cornerstone for the offensive line, the Bucs couldn't manage anything else to write home about in 1988. The team finished 5-11, with three of the wins coming on fourth-quarter field goals, meaning the Bucs were a few kicks away from being in the basement of the NFL under Ray Perkins, their second-year head coach who replaced Leeman Bennett after two awful seasons at the helm.

In a common refrain from Bucs' fans and coaches ever since, Perkins said of the close losses his team suffered that season "I don't measure things by our record." And while he was right to be encouraged that a team that looked uncompetitive just a couple of years earlier under Bennett was now putting up a fight, the reality was that the Bucs had just completed their sixth straight season with double-digit losses.

And little did he know that there was plenty more of that losing on the horizon, as the Bucs would continue to miss on finding the right personnel to turn things around and get back to their winning ways of John McKay's teams in the late 70's and early 80's.