We’re hitting the heat of summer these days, which means a new NFL season isn’t far off. The Buccaneers open up the 2019 season 12 weeks from today against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium.
Every Sunday leading up to kickoff of the new season, we’ll be taking a look back at old Bucs seasons, correlating with how many weeks are left in the countdown. So, with 12 weeks to go, we’re taking a look back at Tampa Bay’s 2012 season.
2012 Season in Review
The 2012 season was the start of yet another new era for the Bucs. Just a few years earlier, Raheem Morris replaced Jon Gruden as Tampa Bay’s head coach. His tenure turned out to be short-lived, despite a 10-6 season in 2010. So, the 2012 season brought more change. This time, it was former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano that took over. His first year at the helm was a mixed bag.
Tampa Bay opened up the season with a 16-10 home victory over the rival Carolina Panthers behind a stellar day for Schiano’s run defense. The hype didn’t stick around for long, as a three-game losing streak dropped the team to 1-3. Remember that aforementioned “mixed bag” label? The three-game losing streak was followed by a stretch of five wins in six games for the Bucs that included road victories over the Vikings, Raiders and Panthers. A 6-4 record through 10 games had Tampa Bay in playoff contention, but things very quickly went south.
After getting to 6-4 with an overtime win in Carolina, the Bucs lost five straight games, falling to the Falcons, Broncos, Eagles, Saints and Rams. The first three losses were by one possession, but the next two were big losses. A 41-0 loss in New Orleans was followed by a 28-13 loss to St. Louis (now Los Angeles, of course). At 6-9, the Bucs were out of the playoff conversation. The team snapped its losing streak in Week 17 with a 22-17 win over the Falcons to end the year at 7-9.
Schiano’s debut season included a winning streak of four games, but it also had losing streaks of three and five games. The run defense was the NFL’s best, but the pass defense was the league’s worst. Despite the inconsistency, the Bucs saw their win total jump from four to seven in one year. It wasn’t the worst start for Schiano, all things considered. Of course, 2013 was a whole different story — a story we’d all like to forget. For those who don’t remember, just be glad this series is starting with 12 weeks until kickoff and not 13.
2012 Notes and Highlights
- In Week 1, Ronde Barber started his 200th consecutive game. He had a sack and an interception in the Bucs’ victory over the Panthers.
- Schiano sparked some controversy in a road loss to the Giants in Week 2. With New York set to take a knee to close out the game, the head coach ordered his linemen to crash the snap, putting pressure on Eli Manning. The Giants weren’t happy, but it was clear the Bucs had a new attitude about them... At least at the time.
- Paul Gruber was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium at halftime of Tampa Bay’s 38-10 win over Kansas City in Week 6.
- In that Week 6 win, Ronde Barber turned in a 78-yard pick six, which was the eighth of his career. In that game, the Bucs’ strong run defense held Jamaal Charles — the NFL’s leading rusher at the time — to just 40 yards on the ground.
- Doug Martin broke out as a rookie in 2012. He ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, earning him a Pro Bowl selection and a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team.
- The game that stands out the most in the 2012 season was the Bucs’ 42-32 road win over the Raiders. Martin ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns, setting NFL and franchise records with that performance. It still stands as the best rushing performance in franchise history.
- A Week 11 matchup in Carolina was memorable for a number of reasons. Martin broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark just 10 games into his career. Plus, the Bucs ended up completing a heck of a comeback effort, with Josh Freeman hitting Vincent Jackson for a touchdown with 12 seconds left before finding him again for the two-point conversion to force overtime. In overtime, Freeman connected with Dallas Clark for the game-winner to complete a season sweep of the Panthers.
- The 2002 Super Bowl team reunited at halftime of the team’s Week 14 loss to the Eagles.
- In Week 17, Josh Freeman became the first Tampa Bay quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He finished the year with 4,065 yards on 54.8 percent passing, throwing for 27 touchdowns to 17 interceptions.
2012 Buccaneers Player of the Year
This has to go to Doug Martin, who put together a rookie year to remember. He ran for over 1,400 yards and added nearly 500 receiving yards. He scored 12 total touchdowns and made a Pro Bowl, the All-Rookie Team and earned awards throughout the season. He was the NFL Ground Player of the Week three times (Week 8, Week 9 and Week 11), the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month in October and in Week 9, he was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week and the NFL Rookie of the Week.
The 2012 season wasn’t the best for Tampa Bay, but there were plenty memorable moments and performances. It looked like a fairly promising start to the Greg Schiano era. By now, we know that it wasn’t. But the year had plenty of highlights from Freeman, Martin, Jackson, Barber and Lavonte David.
We’re 12 weeks away from kickoff, Bucs fans. Stay tuned to this throwback series every Sunday until Week 1 of the 2019 season.