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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lots of history in Bucs-Packers series

Florida Football Insiders

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eff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

(As the Buccaneers travel Sunday to legendary Lambeau Field to play the Packers, our Tampa Bay historian, Paul Stewart of BucPower.com in London, takes a look at the lengthy rivalry of former division rivals and gives a few of his top games.)

Overall
The all-time series with the Packers is led 31-21 by Green Bay with there also being one tie, the only one in franchise history, in the 1980 encounter in Tampa. The two teams played twice a season from 1978 to 2001 as part of the original NFC Central Division. They also met in the 1997 Divisional playoff at Lambeau Field, a game won by the Packers 21-7.

Sunday 1 December 1985 at Lambeau Field
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 Green Bay Packers 21

This game regularly makes NFL highlight programmes whenever inclement weather is mentioned. Because the Buccaneers and probably not many other teams, have ever played in conditions like this. There was a foot of snow on the field at kickoff time and another four inches fell during the actual game. Less than 20,000 fans actually braved the elements to make it to Lambeau Field with over 45,000 no-shows as the local media stressed to travel if absolutely necessary.

On the field, the Buccaneers were in white and QB Steve Young could often not even see his receivers through the blizzard. He ran the same pass play to Kevin House consecutively with one sailing over the receiver’s head on the wind and the next falling five yards short at his feet. On the other side of the ball, the Packers seemed to move the ball at will outgaining the Bucs 512-65 in total yardage making the final 21-0 scoreline amazingly small
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The Bucs did get out of Wisconsin on a flight that evening but several of the players had staged a protest convinced it was not safe to fly. Eventually the pilot had to come out of the cockpit to convince them that he had a wife and family and wouldn’t put them at risk by taking off in dangerous conditions. “Show us the pictures” LB Scot Brantley remembers calling out. “You could hear a pin drop when we rolled down the runway” he added.

Sunday 13 September 1992 at Tampa Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 Green Bay Packers 3

The Vincredible game. Sam Wyche arrived as head coach for the 1992 season and the Bucs opened his reign with a 23-7 win over the Cardinals on opening day. Expectations were raised for the arrival of the Packers the following week but no-one anticipated the almost perfect game that would be played at the Old Sombrero.

QB Vinny Testaverde was a staggering 22 of 25 for 363 yards and two touchdowns, only falling short of an NFL record for completion percentage when a long pass to Courtney Hawkins fell incomplete in the fourth quarter. “I messed him up right there,” Wyche said. “I actually knew – I hate to even admit this – I knew that he’d set an NFL record for the highest percentage of completions in the history of the game. But the important thing is that we won.”

On the other side of the ball, competing against CB Ricky Reynolds who won NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts, was a young QB making his debut in relief of an injured Don Majkowski. If the Bucs and NFL had known what Brett Favre would go on to accomplish, they might not have been so generous. But Favre did complete his first NFL pass … to himself. A deflected pass came back to him to result in a great trivia question for the future Hall of Famer.

Sunday 8 November 2009 at Raymond James Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38 Green Bay Packers 28

After 12 years, the Bucs finally returned to their orange colours for their first-ever Throwback game in November 2009. The stadium was decorated orange and Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon was being inducted as the first member of the team’s Ring of Honor. It was truly a memorable day in Tampa.

Raheem Morris’ team was 0-7 on returning from playing in England and made the decision to start rookie QB Josh Freeman. He merely passed for three touchdowns including the go-ahead score to WR Sammie Stroughter on 4th down with just over four minues remaining. @The guy was very poised – unreal, like, wow,” RB Cadillac Williams said. “That’s the hardest position to play in football, man. For that guy to come in and do the job he did, unbelievable.”

S Tanard Jackson sealed the victory with a pick six off QB Aaron Rodgers in the final seconds and as the Gatorade bath descended on Morris for his first NFL coaching victory, the Bucs were able to party like it was 1979.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Bucs coach Dungy- “You can’t make that move”

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It remains a huge topic for now in Tampa Bay, what happens when former number 1 pick and franchise quarterback Jameis Winston comes off of suspension after Monday night’s game with the Steelers?

For now, the answer appears to be simple, Ryan Fitzpatrick has played tremendous football for two weeks. This includes being named the NFC offensive player of the week for both weeks to start the season as the Bucs are 2 – 0.

Former Buccaneers coach and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Tony Dungy weighed in on the Winston debate Friday morning on “ProFootballTalk Live” and NBC Sports Network:

“If Ryan plays like he played these last two games, if he does it again Monday night, how can you say ‘we have a better chance to win with a quarterback who hasn’t been in the building for three and half weeks….You can’t make that move.” Dungy continued, “Right now, you have to say ‘Ryan Fitzpatrick gives us the best chance to win.'”

Dungy, who’s the commentator now in the studio for NBC on Sunday nights, will actually be at the Monday night showdown between the Bucs and the Steelers. This is because he’s being placed in Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor, acknowledging Dungy having turned around the Buccaneer franchise in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Dungy went on to reference the example in the early 70s of the Dolphins and Don Shula facing this dilemma when Bob Griese had broken his ankle at the beginning of a season. And veteran journeyman backup Earl Morrall replaced him, and ended up being the MVP of the NFL regular season that year. Morrall played all the way until he was ineffective in the AFC Championship Game. Griese replaced him and the Fins won it all with a perfect season.

Dungy’s point was the Shula chose to “ride the hot hand,” even with a great player and established quarterback waiting in the wings, and Miami ended up making history.

Dungy, the former Super Bowl coach of Colts, then even told Florio how he would handle the situation in his locker room and with the media after Monday night, if Fitzpatrick leads the Bucs to a win:

“I don’t think you can say with Ryan, ‘you’re our guy no matter what.’ … You’ve gotta say, ‘I’ll make the decision, when I feel like Ryan doesn’t give us the best chance to win, we’ve got a great player (Winston) ready to play. But, for now? Don’t ask me any questions, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s playing. I’ll let you know when he’s not gonna play.'”

It’s obvious that if Fitzpatrick just plays decently and the Bucs win, he’s going to remain their quarterback. Also, if FitzPatrick plays well and the Bucs narrowly lose, he more than likely is going to remain the quarterback, for now.

However, few believe that this situation is going to remain the same throughout the 16-game schedule and more than likely, the Bucs will turn back to Winston at some point and maybe soon.

However, as Dungy put it out there Friday, that time just isn’t right now.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs got good injury news Thursday starting with rookie DT Vea

Florida Football Insiders

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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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