Was that the worst loss ever? Not even close
The loss to the Jets last Sunday was definitely one of the most disappointing and frustrating losses in franchise history but where would it rank in an all-time Buccaneer list of such defeats? How many games led cats all over the world to make hasty exits before Tampa Bay-supporting boots connected with them in futile gestures of annoyance?
Not every one of the Bucs' 350 regular-season defeats could be considered for this feature for as former Tampa Tribune Sports Editor Nick Pugliese pointed out, there were many games they played that they simply had no chance of winning let alone the chance of disappointing their fans. Former TE Jerry Bell was quick to add that he played in many of these games.
In addition, all 28 of Leeman Bennett's losses in the 1985 and 1986 seasons do not count because they have been eradicated from memory.
1979 v Minnesota
John McKay's team were 9-3 and needed one win in their final four games to clinch their first division title and playoff berth. The goal-posts were even greased to stop fans climbing up to celebrate the impending title. And then the Bucs managed to have three kicks blocked, two PATs and a fieldgoal and they lost 22-23.
1983 at Green Bay
This one was 49-7 Packers at half-time and the Bucs' score was on an interception return by Hugh Green. It only finished 55-14 becase Knute Rockne coached the second half and the Lombardi Power Sweep was run featuring the original members of the 1960s team that patented it. Admittedly Tampa were missing three of the four members of their starting secondary, both starting guards and James Wilder.
1987 at St.Louis
Ray Perkins' team was 4-3 having picked up two wins in the strike games and was leading the Cardinals 28-3 in Busch Stadium going into the fourth quarter. "When a Buc equals three quarters" was the popular caption after the game which even ended on a 53-yard fieldgoal attempt by Donald Igwebuike hitting the crossbar.
1990 v Dallas
Another false dawn as Perkins had his fourth Buc team at 4-2 and pushing for the division lead. The Cowboys were still in rebuilding mode under Jimmy Johnson but the Bucs' offense stunk up the joint and was ahead only 13-10 inside the final two minutes. Naturally Dallas went 80 yards to win it on Troy Aikman's pass to Michael Irvin and completely ruined my vacation.
1999 at St.Louis
The NFC Championship game and the 11-6 loss to the Rams. This defensive performance and the one the previous week against Washington was simply outstanding and any kind of offense would have seen Tony Dungy's team in the Super Bowl. But Shaun King was behind center and it should have never have come down to the actually-correct call on Bert Emanuel's "catch" in the final minute.
2003 v Indianapolis
Never in NFL history had a team blown a 21-point lead in the final five minutes. And certainly no-one could have expected it to be done by the defending Super Bowl champions. But from 35-14, Jon Gruden lost to his predecessor and all anyone seems to remember is the leaping call on Simeon Rice on the overtime fieldgoal which again was actually a correct call.
2003 v Carolina
Three weeks before the Colts' disaster came another terrible loss as the offense and kicking game fell apart against the Panthers as the 2003 team, not for the last time, seemed to sleepwalk through a game just assuming it would all turn out OK in the end.
2011 at Atlanta
Raheemís last game as head coach. It was 42-0 Falcons in the 2nd quarter and the Bucs had been lucky to get the 0. If you ever want an example of an NFL team and its players just totally quitting on their coach, then watch the game film from the first 25 minutes until Atlanta called off the dogs. They could have set an NFL scoring record that day.
Other possible inclusions could have been the 1983 loss in overtime to the undefeated Cowboys, the Minnesota loss the following year that caused John McKay to announce his retiirement, or the 2008 Monday night meltdown in Carolina when every Panther running back in Carolina history seemed to run for over 100 yards against Monte Kiffin's once-vaulted defense.
You've been great - enjoy the Boomtown Rats.