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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Panthers ready to write more history on Christmas Eve

Florida Football Insiders

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

(The Buccaneers are traveling to Carolina to play the Panthers yet, again, this time on Christmas Eve. Our resident Bucs professor of history, Paul Stewart of Bucpower.com, is back with three different famous games in the series. Click the scores for pictures and videos from his site, as well.)

THE BUCS IN CAROLINA
This will be Tampa Bay’s 18th trip to Carolina to play the Panthers dating back to their expansion season of 1995, a game that was played at Clemson Stadium. We looked at three of the best home games with the Bucs’ division rivals earlier in the year, so we now feature a trio of games played on the road.

Sunday 1 October 1995 at Memorial Stadium, University of Clemson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 Carolina Panthers 13

The arrival of the Panthers and Jaguars into the NFL brought a far more generous method in stocking the expansion franchises than the Buccaneers saw back in 1976 together with the ability to sign free agents from a zero salary cap standpoint. The result were two teams who were competitive from Day One and this Week 5 clash saw Carolina give Sam Wyche’s team all the trouble they could handle during their infamous “Five-dash-two” start to the 1995 season.

QB Trent Dilfer went out with a concussion so it was back-up Casey Weldon who came in during the first half and he scored the winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak on the first play of the 4th quarter. The game also featured punter Reggie Roby’s first NFL completion as he hit Tony Booty with a 48-yard pass on a fake punt. “(Roby) wasn’t proud of it,” joked Booty. “He needs to go to quarterback school.”

“You’ve got to drop that word `expansion,’ ” said Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson, asked about Tampa Bay’s 0-4 opponent. “Let’s just call it a team in its first year. Don’t say expansion. Expansion leads everyone to believe this team should just get wiped out by the No. 1 high school team in the nation. This was a very good team we played today.”

The Bucs and Panthers would wind up with identical 7-9 records by season end but Wyche would pay the price for a fourth straight losing season, one in which he seemingly fought the press and some players on his team on a weekly basis.

Sunday 18 November 2012 at Bank of America Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Carolina Panthers 21

Greg Schiano’s first season as Tampa Bay head coach had begun with a 16-10 home win over the Panthers on opening day and two months later, he made it a season sweep in far more dramatic circumstances.

The Bucs’ trailed by 11 with just over four minutes left in the game but a Connor Barth fieldgoal and a defensive stop gave the offense one last chance to tie the game. Josh Freeman led his team downfield, hit Vincent Jackson with a 24-yard scoring pass with 12 seconds remaining and then hit the same player again for a successful two-point conversion to take the game to overtime.

Just over four minutes into the extra period, Freeman found his veteran TE Dallas Clark from 15 yards out, a play that was eventually confirmed after replay, the first time the former Colt had ever scored a game winner in that fashion. “No, I’ve never done that before — anywhere,” said Clark, who signed as a free agent after nine seasons in Indianapolis. “And it was kind of weird, because looking at the sideline afterward, everyone was rushing onto the field, which was really fun. It was like at the end of a basketball game.”

This was the Bucs’ fourth straight win under Schiano taking them to 6-4 on the season but that would be their highpoint and they would ultimately lose their next five games before finishing the year at 7-9.

Monday 10 October 2016 at Bank of America Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 Carolina Panthers 14

It was Monday Night Football in Carolina and the Bucs were 1-3 after having won Dirk Koetter’s opening game as head coach. Without Doug Martin, Koetter turned to one of his former Atlanta players, Jacquizz Rodgers, to lead the ground game but wound up having to put his faith in his much-maligned rookie kicker, Roberto Aguayo.

The 2nd round pick had connected with a pair of first-half fieldgoals and had missed two others. The defense kept giving him chances by forcing four turnovers from a Panther team missing QB Cam Newton including a pick in the endzone by Brent Grimes to end one apparent game-winning Carolina drive.

Jameis Winston led his team 66 yards in 11 plays inside the final two minutes to set up Aguayo who potentially saved his career and the Bucs’ season by nailing the game-winner from 38 yards as time expired. “I looked up and it was going down the middle and everybody was coming at me,” Aguayo said. “For some reason, I was telling everyone, ‘We are going to get a penalty.’ But the game was over.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs got good injury news Thursday starting with rookie DT Vea

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their 2 – 0 start, the Buccaneers have been battling early-season injuries, but they got good news on Thursday. In particular, mammoth rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea returned to the practice field for the first time, since injuring his calf in the first week of training camp in late July.

The former number 1 pick out of Washington was on the practice field with a helmet and shoulder pads during the time period that the media was allowed to view and film practice. There is eager anticipation on Vea being able to get in the lineup and be paired next to Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy on the Bucs defensive why.

Tampa Bay officially listed Vea as “limited” in Thursday’s workout, as they prepare for Monday night’s match-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The good news on the defensive side of the ball, has lockdown defensive back Brent Grimes also returned to practice for the Bucs Thursday. Grimes has missed the last two weeks after injuring his groin just before the opening game at New Orleans. He was also officially listed as limited by the team on their injury report.

Grimes will be counted on even more heavily now that the Bucs have lost another starting Corner in Vernon Hargreaves, who’s out for the season with a shoulder injury. Last week, Tampa Bay played a mix of rookies and a veteran, whom they had just picked up during the week.

Second round picks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis played significantly in last Sunday’s 27 – 21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay was also forced to use veteran free agent Marcus Williams for a couple of series, who they had picked up off of waivers during the game onSunday. Third-year veteran Ryan Smith played significantly, as well in the game and will also be counted on moving forward.

The Bucs also listed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week back to back to start the season, is also on the injury report with a knee, but he was able to practice.

Also, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is battling a knee injury and was not able to work out on Thursday. Pierre-Paul hurt the knee in New Orleans, but played that entire game and all of the Philadelphia game.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s cool to be a Bucs fan, again

Jeff Pantridge

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

(Please welcome a new contributor to F.F.I. Jeff Pantridge is a long time resident of the Tampa Bay area who has formerly hosted on the Tampa Bay sports radio scene, and also most recently in Virginia Beach, VA. He will be giving us his unique humor and insight into everything involving Florida’s college and NFL teams. Welcome “Pants!”)

In a country that’s as divided as ever; we don’t have many things that we agree on in 2018. Despite all of our differences though, there is one thing that we share. We all want to be cool.

This is how life works. You’re born. You learn how to walk. You learn how to talk. You run around the playground for a few years and once you hit 8 years old or so; you figure things out. You want to be cool. You realize that the cute sweater with the sailboat on it that mom got you when you were 7 sucks and you want to start picking your own clothes. From that point on, pretty much until we die, while we may have a few more meaningful purposes; we’ll always on some level, just want to be cool.

I’ve been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, since I was 7 years old. I started watching and listening to their games with my dad in 1984. I loved my Bucs and I would go to school every morning and let all of the other kids know it. They weren’t impressed. The Buccos finished 6-10 that year and 7 year old kids don’t like losers. Then 1985 hit. I ditched that stupid sweater and got me a brand new orange Tampa Bay Bucs shirt. I traded in my sailboat for a menacing pirate ship. I had to be cool at this point, right?

Nope. The Bucs went 2-14 that year. Unfortunately, 8-year old me had no idea that my football team hired a former used RV salesman (Leeman Bennett) to be their head coach. Meanwhile, the coolest team ever assembled shuffled their way to a Super Bowl by dismantling everyone in their path. They also danced, they rapped, they appeared on TV shows and redefined what cool was. Just about every 8-year old kid in my class and in every other class, was a Chicago Bears fan. After that 2-14 season, the Bucs had another 2-14 season. And then 10 more losing seasons after that. The Bears would go on to wear out their welcome at the cool kids table too.

The thing is; coolness is fleeting. Trends fade over time. For the rest of my youth, many teams sat at that cool kids table. The Giants were cool. Then the Redskins were cool. Then the 49ers were cool. Then the Cowboys were cool… It seemed like every team was getting to eat lunch at that table except my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then it happened…

In 1997; everything changed. The Bucs had just hired a new Head Coach (Tony Dungy) in the previous year. (This guy didn’t sell RV’s.) They were led by Hardy Nickerson and 2 first round draft picks in their 3rd year who were destined to become first ballot Hall of Famers. They ditched those comically uncool creamsicle uniforms and they were off and running.

While most people will tell you that 2002 was their favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers season for obvious reasons; I will always lean towards 1997, because that’s when my football team became cool. They started 5-0 that year, and to this day; I’ve never seen The Bay Area buzzing like that.

Not when the Lightning won The Cup. Not when The Rays got to the World Series. Not even when the Buccaneers themselves brought the Lomabardi trophy home 5 years later. EVERYBODY was talking about the Bucs!

21 years later; everybody is talking about these Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again. It might be a new cast of characters, but your Pewter Pirates are the coolest team in America, led by the coolest athlete in America; Ryan Fitzpatrick. Who would’ve thought that a guy like him would ever fit that title? He’s a 35-year old backup quarterback that went to Harvard. This is 2018 though. Nerds are cool now. Marc Zuckerberg (another Harvard nerd) is worth more than the entire NFL. LeBron James wears glasses, when he doesn’t need to wear glasses.

Heck, I just watched SportsCenter do 10 minutes on some dude that plays video games for a living. By the way, this nerd also hangs with Drake, Paul George and a bunch of other really cool people that don’t hang out with any of us.

Do we know how long this ride is going to last? No. Will it be a long ride? Probably not. Like I said… coolness is fleeting. I’m just happy to be sitting at that cool kids table once again.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Fitzpatrick repeats as NFC Player of the Week

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Sep 16, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a touchdown pass in the first quarter in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The role continues for “Fitzmagic” in Tampa Bay. As for the second straight week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, off of yet another 400 yard, four touchdown performance Sunday against the Eagles.

The NFL made it official earlier on Wednesday:

As we have been writing, Fitzpatrick has had two record-breaking weeks at the Helm of the Buccaneers. He has become the only quarterback in the 99 year history of the NFL to throw for at least 400 yards and four or more touchdowns in the first two games of any season.

And, those outstanding numbers have led Tampa Bay to a surprising 2- 0 start against a schedule that most believed would be very difficult at New Orleans and against the champion Eagles.

Fitzpatrick was great on the very first play of the game Sunday, hitting DeSean Jackson with a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown. That is the longest play in Buccaneers history on the opening play of any game. He went on to spread the ball around throwing another 75 yard TD to tight end O.J. Howard in the first half, and then TD passes to receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in the red zone.

Fitzpatrick is also the first Buccaneer player in history to garner player of the week honors in back-to-back weeks. He also is now tied with Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger for third place for most player of the week honors since the start of the 2014 season with six.

Aaron Rodgers has eight and Cam Newton has seven in that same time frame.

The voting is significant again this week, as Fitzpatrick could have easily lost out to Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins, who also threw for over 400 yards at Lambeau Field against the Packers in a wild 29-29 tie.

However, the “Fitzmagic” is just too much, apparently, at the moment.

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