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Buccaneers Countdown to Kickoff: 5 Weeks

With five weeks until Tampa Bay opens up its 2019 season, we’re taking a look back at the 2005 season.

Buffalo Bills v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

We’re less than one week away from the Buccaneers opening up their preseason slate. The arrival of preseason play means we’re even closer to the real thing. We are FIVE weeks away from Tampa Bay kicking off the 2019 season 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. Last week, we returned to the 2006 season. So, with five weeks to go now, we’re taking a look back at Tampa Bay’s 2005 season.

2005 Season in Review

The 2005 season was a memorable one for the Buccaneers. It was Tampa Bay’s 30th anniversary season, and the team didn’t disappoint. Coming off of a 5-11 record in 2004, the Bucs put together a playoff season in 2005. That began with Joey Galloway, Dexter Jackson and Dave Moore re-signing before the season. The free agency period also included the signing of Matt Bryant. The draft class would provide a big spark as well, with Cadillac Williams and Alex Smith making early impacts. Barrett Ruud — the Bucs’ second round pick — eventually played a big part for teams in the following years.

Tampa Bay got out to a hot start, winning four straight to start the season. After splitting the next two, the Bucs were 5-1 heading into their bye weeks. They were on the winning side of matchups with the Vikings (24-13 on the road), Bills (19-3 at home), Packers (17-16 on the road), Lions (17-13 at home) and the Dolphins (27-13 at home). The lone loss was a 14-12 final to the Jets at The Meadowlands.

The team came out of the bye with two straight losses (15-10 in San Francisco and 34-14 at home against Carolina). A rebound followed, with the Bucs winning four of five to get to 9-4. A shutout loss to New England in Week 15 wouldn’t matter, as home wins over Atlanta and New Orleans to close the season were enough to clinch the NFC South for Tampa Bay.

At 11-5, the Bucs hosted the Redskins in the NFC Wild Card Round. Tampa Bay fell short of advancing to the Divisional Round, losing 17-10 to Washington. It was an early exit for the Bucs, but their 11 wins in the 2005 season are still their most in one season since the Super Bowl year.

2005 Notes and Highlights

  • The Bucs opened the 2005 season with a 24-13 road win over the Vikings in Minnesota. It was a pretty complete performance for Tampa Bay. The defense came up with five turnovers — two interceptions from Brian Kelly, one from Derrick Brooks, a fumble recovery by Dewayne White and another recovery by Chris Hovan. Shelton Quarles forced two fumbles as well. Minnesota failed to score an offensive touchdown.
  • Offensively, the Bucs got a big boost from their rookies. Third-round pick Alex Smith caught four passes for 34 yards and two touchdowns, while first-rounder Cadillac Williams ran for 148 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
  • Tampa Bay kept it rolling in Week 2, beating Buffalo 19-3 at Raymond James Stadium. Cadillac Williams was the star once again, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Shelton Quarles came up with a sack for a safety, and Simeon Rice had a sack of his own. The Bills put up just 147 total yards.
  • Week 3 saw the Bucs win at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1989. Cadillac Williams broke 100 yards for the third straight week, going for 158 yards on 37 carries. He broke the NFL record for most rushing yards in the first three games of a career and became the first player to rush for 100-plus yards in three straight games to start a career. Tampa Bay’s victory improved them to 3-0 and dropped Green Bay to 0-3.
  • Williams ran for just 13 yards on 11 carries in Week 4, but the passing game picked him up to help the Bucs improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1997. Brian Griese threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns, with Joey Galloway catching seven passes for 166 of those yards and one touchdown. Michael Pittman caught six passes for 96 yards and the other score.
  • Williams was held out with an injury in Week 5, which contributed to a slow day for the Buccaneer offense. Tampa Bay dropped its first game of the season, falling 14-12 to the Jets.
  • With Williams sidelined again in Week 6, Michael Pittman stepped up with 127 yards and a touchdown in a 27-13 home win over the Dolphins. Brian Griese left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left knee. He would go on to miss the rest of the season.
  • After a bye week, the Bucs returned to the field in Week 8 with Chris Simms as their new starting quarterback. They lost their next two games, dropping them out of first place in the NFC South.
  • Tampa Bay broke its skid in Week 10, with a 36-35 home victory over the Washington Redskins. It was a dramatic one at Raymond James Stadium, with Simms finding Edell Shepherd for a 30-yard touchdown with less than a minute to go, making it 35-34. After Washington jumped offside on the extra point attempt, Jon Gruden decided to go for the win. A second effort was needed, but Mike Alstott pushed ahead to give Tampa Bay a one-point win.
  • The Bucs got a huge game from Simeon Rice, who had two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in the win.
  • Cadillac Williams returned to form in Week 11, finishing with 116 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Bucs beat the Falcons 30-27 in Atlanta, doing so in dramatic fashion. Williams tied the game with under two minutes to go, then Derrick Brooks forced a Michael Vick fumble that was recovered by Shelton Quarles. Matt Bryant capped off the win by kicking a go-ahead 45-yard field goal with under a minute to go. Michael Koenen missed a 55-yarder as time expired, allowing the Bucs to escape with a win.
  • Tampa Bay’s Week 13 game against New Orleans was played in LSU’s Tiger Stadium due to Hurricane Katrina. Ronde Barber was the game’s star, coming up with three interceptions as the Bucs won 10-3.
  • The Bucs earned a huge win in Week 14, beating the Panthers 20-10 at home to move into a first-place tie in the NFC South. Cadillac Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, while Ronde Barber came up with yet another interception. Barber later picked up a sack, becoming the first cornerback in NFL history to get to 20 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career.
  • Tampa Bay’s 28-0 loss in Week 15 to New England was the team’s worst shutout loss since 1999.
  • The Bucs won a wild overtime game — 27-24 — over the Falcons on Christmas Eve. Trailing 24-17 with less than a minute to go, Cadillac Williams ran for a six-yard touchdown. In overtime, things really got wacky. After a fumble on the opening kickoff, Tampa Bay’s chances looked dim. Atlanta lined up for what looked like an easy field goal, but it was blocked by Dewayne White. The Bucs responded by later driving deep into Atlanta territory, only for Matt Bryant to miss an easy kick. It was with 15 seconds left that Bryant got redemption, booting a 41-yarder for the win.
  • Williams ran for 150 yards and a score in the victory, putting himself over 1,000 yards for the season. He also set a rookie record for Tampa Bay.
  • The Bucs needed a win in Week 17 to clinch the division, and they got it. They beat the Saints 27-13 at home to win the NFC South. Dewayne White finished off the win by stripping the ball away and returning it for an insurance score.
  • Tampa Bay couldn’t put much together in the NFC Wild Card Round, falling 17-10 to Washington at home. The defense only allowed 120 yards, but a defensive touchdown from Redskins safety Sean Taylor helped widen an early lead for the visitors. Chris Simms threw two interceptions in the loss. The Bucs looked to have tied it late, but it was ruled that Edell Shepherd didn’t complete the catch after going to the ground with the ball. The Bucs challenged the play, but lost. As a result, Washington went on to the next round, only to lose to the Seahawks.
  • Ronde Barber, Josh Bidwell and Derrick Brooks represented the Bucs in the Pro Bowl. Brooks returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown in the game, earning him MVP honors.

2005 Buccaneers Player of the Year

In past editions of the Countdown to Kickoff Rewind Series, this was a difficult honor to award. This time? Not so much. Chris Simms did an admirable job stepping in for Brian Griese. Joey Galloway went over 1,000 yards. Shelton Quarles, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber all had huge years. Simeon Rice totaled 14 sacks, and until this past year, was the last Buc to get to double-digit sacks.

But this has to be Cadillac Williams. The first-rounder ran for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns. He set a Bucs rookie record for rushing yards, set NFL records early in the season and finished the year with six 100-yard rushing games. He went on to win the AP’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He joined Warrick Dunn (1997) as the only Bucs to win the award.

The Buccaneers’ 30th anniversary season was a fun one. With 11 wins and a division title, it remains one of the best seasons in franchise history. The first-round exit in the playoffs was a disappointment, but the regular season was full of excitement. Cadillac Williams broke out, the defense remained tough and there were some thrilling victories. Plus, going 5-1 in NFC South play? That’s unheard of nowadays. It was a memorable year, one that hasn’t been topped since.

We’re five weeks away from kickoff, Bucs fans. Stay tuned to this rewind series every Sunday until Week 1 of the 2019 season.