Buccaneers training camp starts up THIS WEEK, which means the 2019 season opener is right around the corner. We’re SEVEN weeks away from Tampa Bay returning to Raymond James Stadium to host the San Francisco 49ers.
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. Last week, we returned to the 2008 season. So, with seven weeks to go now, we’re taking a look back at Tampa Bay’s 2007 season.
2007 Season in Review
The offseason leading into the 2007 season proved to be eventful for the Bucs. They signed veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia and traded for another veteran signal-caller in Jake Plummer, who then decided to retire shortly after. The team eventually sued and settled with Plummer, requiring him to pay the $3.5 million he was given for the contract signing bonus.
Those weren’t the only headlines that Tampa Bay made during the summer. The team signed former Pro Bowl selection Cato June, released veteran Shelton Quarles after a failed physical and re-signed Mike Alstott to a one-year deal – only for him to end up on injured reserve by the end of the preseason.
Interesting start to the year, no?
As far as the actual season, it ended up being a memorable one. A season-opening loss in Seattle was followed by a three-game winning streak for Tampa Bay. Streakiness continued for the Bucs as they lost three of four before beating the Cardinals to head into the bye week with a 5-4 record. They won three in a row after the bye – to extend their overall winning streak to four games – to head into the final stretch of the season with a solid mark of 8-4.
Tampa Bay lost three of four to end the season, but its 9-7 record was still good enough to win the NFC South. Unfortunately for the Bucs, their playoff run wasn’t a deep one. They lost an NFC Wild Card game to the Giants at home by a score of 24-14. New York went on to win the Super Bowl, beating the previously-undefeated Patriots in a major upset.
2007 Notes and Highlights
- The Bucs rebounded from a Week 1 loss in Week 2 by blowing out the Saints by a score of 31-14 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay took a 28-0 lead on the defending NFC South champions before coasting to a big win. Joey Galloway was the player of the day, catching four passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Cadillac Williams ran for two touchdowns of his own in the victory.
- The Bucs beat the Rams 24-3 in Week 3, but the game started out as a defensive battle. Tampa Bay led 3-0 at halftime and 10-0 after three quarters before a two-touchdown fourth by Earnest Graham. Phillip Buchanon, Barrett Ruud and Jermaine Phillips all intercepted Marc Bulger in the win.
- Tampa Bay took a 20-0 lead over Carolina in Week 4 before ultimately winning 20-7, taking first place in the NFC South.
- Barrett Ruud was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in September, totaling 51 tackles, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also had an interception in the win over St. Louis.
- In Week 6, the Bucs improved to 4-2 with a late 13-10 victory over the Titans in Tampa. Tennessee tied the game at 10-10 late in the fourth quarter, but Jeff Garcia led a seven-play, 55-yard drive to set up Matt Bryant for a game-winning 43-yard field goal.
- Despite outgaining the Lions 422-278, the Bucs lost 23-16 on the road in Week 7. The loss largely came due to a couple of fumbles by Jeff Garcia, who had protected the ball very well prior to that unfortunate game.
- Garcia followed his disappointing game in Week 7 with an even more disappointing effort in Week 8’s 24-23 loss to the Jaguars. He came into the game with a streak of 217 pass attempts without throwing an interception, but he threw three in the loss to Jacksonville.
- Tampa Bay started to turn things around in Week 9, beating Arizona 17-10 at home. Earnest Graham ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, and Jermaine Phillips intercepted Kurt Warner late to finish off the win. The victory improved the Bucs to 5-4, which was good for first place in the division heading into the bye week.
- The Bucs returned from their bye week with a 31-7 road win over the Falcons in Week 11. The Tampa Bay defense forced four turnovers in the win, while Earnest Graham ran for 102 yards and a score. Jeff Garcia hit Joey Galloway just twice in the game, but the duo went for 63 yards and a touchdown. Garcia’s other score was a 21-yarder to Alex Smith.
- Tampa Bay extended its winning streak to three games in Week 12 with a 19-13 win over Washington. The Buccaneer defense forced six turnovers, with Tanard Jackson recovering two fumbles. Kevin Carter and Stylez G. White each recovered a fumble as well, while Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly both picked off Jason Campbell.
- The Bucs’ winning streak went to four games in Week 13 when they beat the Saints 27-23 in a thriller. Tampa Bay trailed 23-20 inside the Superdome, and New Orleans had the ball late. However, Reggie Bush fumbled the ball away and set the Bucs up at the 37-yard line. New Orleans forced a 4th-&-1 situation at the 28. Jon Gruden, with the game-tying field goal there for the taking, went for it. Earnest Graham converted, then Luke McCown connected with Jerramy Stevens for the win just a few plays later.
- The win set the Bucs up for a very good situation in the NFC South title race. They needed just one win in the last four weeks of the season to clinch the division. As we’ll see, they took that very literally.
- The Bucs got their division-clinching win in Week 15, beating the Falcons 37-3 at home. Ronde Barber recorded a pick six, Earnest Graham ran for 79 yards and a touchdown and Michael Spurlock made history. Spurlock’s 90-yard kick return for a touchdown marked the franchise’s first-ever kick return score, coming in its 32nd season.
- The Tampa Bay defense dominated Atlanta, helping to secure the Bucs’ sixth-ever division title (their third in the NFC South, which was established in 2007).
- With the division wrapped up, the Bucs lost their last two games in the regular season.
- The Bucs, at 9-7, hosted the Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but a 24-0 run by New York was too much to overcome. The season was over, and the start of the Bucs’ current playoff drought was set to start.
- After the season, Bucs legend Mike Alstott announced his retirement, giving an emotional farewell speech at One Buc Place.
2007 Buccaneers Player of the Year
It was tempting to give Earnest Graham the nod here, considering he put up 1,222 total yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. It could’ve been Jeff Garcia, who to this day is still the last quarterback to lead the Bucs to the playoffs. But the big-play ability of Joey Galloway is what is most memorable about the 2007 season. Garcia’s leadership was huge. He took care of the football, throwing just four interceptions on the year. He threw 13 touchdowns, giving him a nice QB:INT ratio. But SIX of those 13 touchdowns were to Galloway. The veteran receiver put his speed on display all year long, catching 57 passes for 1,014 yards and six scores on the year. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch, providing Tampa Bay with a steady option at receiver. When recapping Bucs history, Galloway can get overlooked. It’s easy to forget what a star he was in his short time in Tampa.
The 2007 season – at the time – probably didn’t feel all that significant for the franchise. Getting back to the top of the division one year after going 4-12 was a big accomplishment, but losing at home in the first round of the playoffs certainly left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths. But as we look back now, 2007 feels different. It was the last year that the team made it to the playoffs. In the eyes of some fans, that’s probably the last time they felt their team was relevant. The current group will try to change that, but until the Bucs get back to postseason glory, the 2007 season will remain the most recent memory of legitimate relevancy for a lot of folks who don the red and pewter in support of the Bucs.
We’re seven weeks away from kickoff, Bucs fans. Stay tuned to this rewind series every Sunday until Week 1 of the 2019 season.