Playing the Jets - futility and memorability
The inter-conference match-up between the Bucs and the Jets will be the 10th time these two franchises have encountered one another in regular season play and there have been some pretty memorable moments in the previous nine if not truly outstanding games.

After a 34-0 shutout suffered by the expansion Bucs, a game the 1976 Jets took so lightly that they did not even start regular No.1 QB Joe Namath, the next meeting was not until the strike-shortened season of 1982 when a 32-17 reverse was the only game John McKay's team lost in their final six games on the way to the post-season tournament.

The game was memorable for the number of snowballs that came out of the stands into the endzones any time the teams neared the scoring area. And bearing in mind how bad the Mets were at the time, replacements for Pat Zachary, Jerry Koosman or Doug Sisk could easily have been found at Shea that afternoon.

The 1984 encounter was the final one of the regular season and James Wilder was going for the NFL record for rushing/receiving in a single season. John McKay had said he was going to do everything possible to help Wilder and this included trying an onside kick when leading 41-14 late, and after that did not work, instructing his defense to let the Jets score.

Mark Cotney and Keith Browner were back-pedalling into the endzone on Johnny Hector's 3-yard score and this led to the Jets trying their own onside kick as the game descended into a farce. Jet players were all over McKay as the game ended with Wilder just short of the record and promised payback on the Bucs.

And it came the following season in Shea when under the hapless Leeman Bennett, the Bucs conceeded no less than 62 points in their all-time worst defensive scoring performance. Tampa even led early 14-0 but to no avail and the Jets were actually imploring coach Joe Walton to go for more inside the final two minutes.

Narrow losses followed in both 1990 and 1991 when strangely the two games followed each other. One season finale and one season opener, both lost by coach Richard Williamson.

In 1997, the Bucs went to the Meadowlands needing a win to make the post-season for the first time in 15 years. Thanks to a pair of interception return scores by Otis "My Man" Smith and a kick return score by Leon Johnson, the 31-0 loss meant Tony Dungy would have to wait one more week before the playoffs became a reality for the Buccaneers once again.

2000 was the famous Curtis Martin option pass game when Ronde Barber failed to notice Martin had removed his glove to make it easier for him to throw the winning pass. It was also the game when Keyshawn Johnson compared Jet WR Wayne Chrebet as a flashlight torch. Me-Shawn had one catch for one yard in the loss.

And then finally and most recently in 2005, the 4-0 Bucs were beaten by none other than Vinny Testaverde, somehow marshalling an out-manned Jet team to a 14-12 win in the Meadowlands leaving four of the past five games won by the Jets settled by a total of just 11 points.

Paul Stewart,, December 2009