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 edition, we'll take a look at the Buccnaneers' rebound during the 2005 season..
Record: 11-5 (First in the NFC South)
Points scored: 300 (20th in NFL)
Points against: 274 (8th in NFL)
Worst to First: In what would become a trend in the NFC South, the Buccaneers went from a fourth-place finish to a first-place finish in just a season, flipping their record from 5-11 to 11-5. The division has been one of the most balanced and competitive since the change to four divisions in 2002, and the Bucs' rebound from worst to first is a prime example of that.
Keys to the Cadillac: First-round pick Carnell "Cadillac" Williams set an NFL record for having the most rushing yards though three career games in league history, totaling 148, 128 and 158 yards in his first three games as a pro. Williams would finish the season with 1178 yards, the most for a Buccaneer back since 1995.
Veteran Presence: Joey Galloway was in his mid-30's in 2005, but that didn't slow him down at all, as he posted a 1287 yard season with 10 touchdowns for a below-average Buccaneer offense which featured two sub-par starting quarterbacks. Galloway's '05 campaign remains the third-best yardage season for a receiver in Bucs' history.
Clutch Cadillac: Rookie Cadillac Williams would score a six-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining, and Matt Bryant would boot a 41-yard field goal in overtime to earn the Bucs a come-from-behind victory over Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons during Week 16 of the 2005 season. The Bucs posted over 400 yards of offense, but three turnovers kept Atlanta in the game until Williams' late game score and the Bryant winner.
The Conversion: With under a minute left, the Buccaneers would score to get within one point of the Washington Redskins in a high-scoring affair at Raymond James Stadium. But with a 35-35 tie in sight, the Bucs opted for a two-point conversion attempt instead, and would succeed on a controversial refereeing decision. Mike Alstott was ruled to have broken the plane by the officials on the field, and a replay review could neither confirm nor deny the original call, and the Bucs would win by one.
A promising season with changes at the quarterback position ended in frustration due to a lack of offense and a frustrating (but this time, probably correct) call by the officials. Stop me if you've heard this one before.
Just as it was in 1999, when Shaun King took over for Trent Dilfer, it was Chris Simms taking over for Brian Griese in 2005 and leading the Bucs to a playoff berth. But just like King's 1999 Bucs, Simms' 2005 edition would be on the right and wrong end of some very close games with some very frustrating decisions by officials.
The Bucs would make the playoffs and face the same Redskins referenced above in the first round, and would absolutely humiliate their offense on that afternoon, holding them to only 120 yards of total offense. But the Bucs would turn the ball over too often, and it would set the Redskins up with a lead, which they held up until a controversial moment in the fourth quarter.
Chris Simms hit Edell Shepherd in the deep right corner of the end zone for an apparent tying touchdown, but the play was ruled incomplete on the field, and the call would not be changed by a replay review. But while Bert Emanuel's "incompletion" certainly seemed to be a clean catch, Shepherd's grab was definitely more debatable.
Years before Calvin Johnson made it famous, Shepherd was victimized by the "complete the process" rules for catching a football in the NFL. The ball came loose as Shepherd hit the ground, and despite keeping his hands on the ball, the ball shifted on the turf, enough to deem it incomplete.
So Simms' perfect pass was wasted, and the Bucs would fail to get another opportunity as good as the one Shepherd failed to haul in on that third-down play. The game would end in a Buccaneer loss, but there was reason for optimism for Bucs fans after seeing their rookie running back and backup quarterback carry them to a playoff berth.