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Season By Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2003

The Buccaneers crash-landed after their Super Bowl victory as tensions rose in the locker room and front office.


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.

Today we take a look at the 2003 season, in which the Buccaneers crash-landed after their Super Bowl triumph.

Season Recap

Record: 7-9 (Third in the NFC South)

Points scored: 301 (18th in NFL)

Points against: 264 (4th in NFL)

Missing the A-Train: After being sidelined with an injury, the Bucs played without Mike Alstott for most of the season, and it showed in their inability to score touchdowns on the ground. The Bucs ran for only five scores in 2003, and two of them were scored by Alstott before his injury.

Even The Kicker...: The Buccaneers relied on the steady leg of Martin Gramatica quite a bit over the previous four seasons, but in 2003, he struggled mightily, missing 10 of his 26 attempts, including three inside of 40 yards. Gramatica set a career low in scoring in 2003, and it was the beginning of the end for the fan favorite placekicker.

Simeon Rice is Still Good!: It wasn't all bad news for the Buccaneers in 2003, as Simeon Rice was a dominant force, earning 15 sacks, causing six fumbles, defending eight passes, and hauling in two interceptions. Rice only earned Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro honors for his efforts, but it stands as one of the best seasons by a Buccaneer defensive lineman in franchise history.

Key Games

Close the Vet, Open the Linc: After defeating the Eagles in what would be the final game played at Veterans Stadium, the Bucs opened the 2003 season by heading to the new home of Philadelphia football and beating the Eagles again. A 17-0 thumping in Week 1 saw Joe Jurevicius catch two touchdowns, including one incredible tip-and-chase reception at the goal line.

Fading Fast: The Buccaneers started off the season 4-3, but would lose three straight in the middle of the year, including a 20-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 11. Ahman Green scored a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Brad Johnson couldn't lead the Bucs to a tying scoring drive in the final nine minutes of regulation, as the Bucs fell to 4-6.

Major Storylines

A year after winning the Super Bowl, the Bucs kicked off the season by beating the rival Eagles yet again, this time in shutout fashion. Things were looking up for the Bucs, who were unable to do much in the offseason due to the picks lost in the trade for Jon Gruden.

But injuries would take their toll, as Mike Alstott, Joe Jurevicius, Brian Kelly, Greg Spires and a host of other key players would get injured over the course of the season, leaving the Bucs thin across the depth chart.

Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp and others still did their jobs and played very well, but the team fell short in too many one-possession games eventually started to break down in the locker room and front office.

Tension between Jon Gruden and Rich McKay and arguments between Keyshawn Johnson and everyone led to Johnson and McKay certainly didn't do the Buccaneers any favors, as McKay was allowed to leave to find a new job in Atlanta, while Johnson was suspended and eventually traded.

So just as they did in 1980, the Bucs followed up their best season in franchise history with a losing season, and there were plenty of questions left unanswered as the team moved forward in search of a new GM with aging stars and limited draft assets.