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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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buccaners logoTampa Bay Buccaneers, professional football team and one of five teams in the Central Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take affect in 2002, the Buccaneers will play in the South Division of the NFC. The Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and wear uniforms of red, silver, and white. The Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. Former University of Southern California (USC) head coach John McKay was hired to pilot the club, but Tampa Bay’s first season was a dismal one. The club became the first team in NFL history to lose all 14 regular-season games, suffering five shutouts and fielding the conference’s worst offense and defense.

The Buccaneers’ losing streak grew to a league-record 26 consecutive games as the club lost the first 12 games of its second season. Tampa Bay improved in 1978, winning five games behind running backs Ricky Bell and Anthony Davis, rookie quarterback Doug Williams, and brothers Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon, who played defensive end and linebacker, respectively. A year later, in 1979, the Buccaneers stunned the league, winning their first five games en route to a first-place tie with the Chicago Bears in the Central Division. Williams had an excellent season, and Bell ran for more than 1,250 yards.

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The Selmon brothers led a top-rated defense, and McKay was named coach of the year. In the playoffs Tampa Bay upset the Philadelphia Eagles before falling to the Los Angeles Rams (now St. Louis Rams) in the NFC Championship Game.After an injury-plagued 1980 season, Tampa Bay qualified for the playoffs in 1981 and 1982 behind Williams, who continued to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC. Both years the Buccaneers lost in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s 5-4 win-loss record in the strike-shortened 1982 season was followed by a long series of losing seasons through the mid-1990s, as the Buccaneers perennially ranked as one of the NFL’s worst-performing teams. In 1996 Tony Dungy, a former defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, was hired as the Buccaneers’ head coach. He rebuilt the team with young, talented players such as running backs Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn, quarterback Trent Dilfer, and cornerback Donnie Abraham. Tampa Bay began the 1997 season with five consecutive wins and finished the season with a 10-6 win-loss record, advancing to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. After defeating the Detroit Lions in the first round, the Buccaneers lost to the Green Bay Packers, the eventual NFC champions. After the 1999 season the Buccaneers reached the NFC Championship game for the first time since 1979, but lost to the Rams. 2003 Super Bowl XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defeated Oakland Raider 48-21.

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