(Our Paul Stewart, Editor of BucPower.com, the definitive historical website of the Tampa Bay Bucs, is back with some of his favorite and important meetings in the Buccaneers previous match-ups with the New England Patriots)
The all-time series with the Patriots is now led by the AFC team 6-2 after wins in their last three encounters. The 2009 game was a Tampa home game but was played in London, England as part of the NFL’s International Series. The first meeting came in the final game of the Buccaneers’ expansion season and completed their winless campaign.
Because of the current NFL scheduling changing in 2002 and the 2009 game taking place overseas, this will be the Patriots’ first visit to Tampa Bay for a regular season game in 20 years, the longest-such streak of any team visiting any other in NFL history.
12 December 1976
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 New England Patriots 31
The expansion season of Tampa Bay football had not been a good one and naturally John McKay’s team completed their winless 0-14 campaign with a season-ending loss to the play-off bound Patriots. But they gave a good account of themselves, being tied at 14-14 in the fourth quarter before the game got really strange.
The Bucs were driving for the go-ahead score when Sam Hunt intercepted Steve Spurrier and returned it for a touchdown. British kicker John Smith added a fieldgoal to extend the lead later in the final period to put the Patriots 24-14 ahead and they had the ball again in the dying seconds of the season.
Instead of taking a knee to run out the clock, New England called a time out with seven seconds left to allow QB Steve Grogan to score a record 12th rushing touchdown of a season by a quarterback. LB Steve Zabel then replaced Smith to boot the extra point.
There were surprisingly no complaints from McKay after the game and he focused on the end of a trying season for his first-year team. ” We are 0-14, I can’t say much more than that. I’ll probably take a little time off and go and hide somewhere.”
16 November 1997
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New England Patriots 7
1997 was the first year of Pewter Power as the Bucs had a new logo, new uniforms and a new stadium taking shape across the way from the Old Sombrero. And under second-year head coach Tony Dungy, they had a new attitude as well.
This game was not even close as until Dungy called the dogs off on defense in the fourth quarter, Drew Bledsoe’s offense had gained less than 100 yards, suffered five sacks and two interceptions. The Bucs led 27-0 after three quarters as they moved to 8-3 on the season on their way to their first playoff berth in 15 years.
“I was mad about losing the shutout,” DT Warren Sapp almot jokingly said having sat out the fourth quarter. “I’ve already choked Steve White a couple of times, and I’ve slapped Regan (Upshaw) around. I’ll get to the rest of them Monday.”
25 October 2009
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 New England Patriots 35
This was the third game to be played in London, England as part of the NFL International Series (See Above) and the first time the Buccaneers had played a regular season game outside of the USA. They did play a 2003 exhibition game against the Jets in Tokyo.
The Bucs were 0-6 coming across the Atlantic under first-year coach Raheem Morris and were 17-point underdogs against the powerhoue Patriots. The game naturally followed expectations and outside of a 33-yard touchdown pass from QB Josh Johnson to WR Antonio Bryant late in the second quarter, it was all New England. Late in the fourth quarter, rookie QB Josh Freeman saw his first live action in preparation for what would be his first NFL start a fortnight later after the bye week.
The only Buccaneer success of the weekend came a day before the game when a team of British Buccaneer fans defeated their Patriot counterparts in a touch-football game organised by NFL UK, their team bolstered by Super Bowl winners RB Mike Alstott and LB Shelton Quarles, and coached by Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon.