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1997 Buccaneers Season 22 Schedule

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1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season 22 Brief

The 1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the team's 22nd in the National Football League. Having gone 6–10 season the previous season, Tampa Bay finished second in the NFC Central, and secured their first playoff berth since the strike-shortened 1982 season.

The 1997 season was notable for several reasons. The club retired their orange and white "Buccaneer Bruce" color scheme and logo, replacing it with a new more marketable and intimidating image. The brand new pewter and red uniforms featured a new "skulls and swords" logo, new fonts, and prominent end zone markings. The 1997 season would also be their final season playing in Houlihan's Stadium. Next door, the much-anticipated brand new Raymond James Stadium was under construction. It was also Ronde Barber's first season with the team.

During the regular season, the Buccaneers surprised many experts by starting off with a 5–0 record. By the end of the season, they had amassed a record of 10–6 and went to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. After beating the Detroit Lions 20–10 in the Wild Card Game, they lost to the eventual NFC champions, the Green Bay Packers, 21–7 in the Divisional Playoff Game.

Head coach Tony Dungy was named NFL Coach of the Year.

NFC Wild Card Game Against the Detroit Lions

The Buccaneers won their first playoff game since 1979, in what turned out to be their final game at Houlihan's Stadium. Tampa Bay built a 20–0 lead midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Trent Dilfer threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Horace Copeland, running back Mike Alstott had a 31-yard touchdown run, and Michael Husted made two field goals. The Bucs defense limited Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell to just 10 of 25 completions for 78 yards, and running back Barry Sanders to 18 carries for 65 yards. Frank Reich replaced Mitchell after he suffered a concussion late in the third quarter. Detroit then scored 10 points to cut the lead in half midway through the fourth quarter, with Jason Hanson's 33-yard field goal and Tommy Vardell's 1-yard touchdown run. But the comeback was short-lived when, after completing a long pass on third down during the final minutes of the game, Reich accidentally spiked the ball on fourth down, giving the ball to Tampa Bay.

NFC Divisional Playoffs Against the Green Bay Packers

Packers running back Dorsey Levens rushed for a team playoff record of 112 yards and a touchdown while also catching 4 passes for 29 yards as the Green Bay defense held Tampa Bay to 90 rushing yards and intercepted 2 passes from Trent Dilfer, who finished the game with only 11 of 36 completions for 200 yards.

Early in the game, Tampa Bay had a chance to score first, but Packers defensive tackle Bob Kuberski blocked Michael Husted's 43-yard field goal attempt. Green Bay then drove for the first touchdown of the game with Brett Favre's 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Chmura. Early in the second quarter, Packers receiver Robert Brooks' 28-yard punt return and 21-yard reception set up a field goal by Ryan Longwell. And later on, defensive back Tyrone Williams intercepted a pass from Dilfer and returned it 14 yards, setting up Longwell's second field goal with six seconds left in the half, making the score 13–0.

Green Bay receiver Antonio Freeman returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but a holding penalty on Darren Sharper eliminated the score and moved the ball all the way back to their own 11-yard line. Green Bay still managed to drive into scoring range, but on the eighth play of the drive, Bucs defensive back Donnie Abraham intercepted a pass from Favre on the Tampa Bay 6-yard line. Dilfer subsequently led the Bucs offense 94 yards in 8 plays to score on fullback Mike Alstott's 6-yard touchdown run, cutting the score to 13–7. But two possessions later, the Packers drove 54 yards and scored with a 2-yard touchdown run by Levens. Then, Favre closed out the scoring by running in the 2-point conversion on a quarterback draw.

Season:
PRESEASON
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Saturday
Aug. 2
Redskins Washington Redskins
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 1
0-1
Lost 8-20
Saturday
Aug. 9
Falcons @ Atlanta Falcons
Georgis Dome, Atlanta, GA
PS - wk 2
0-2
Lost 12-17
Saturday
Aug. 16
Dolphins Miami Dolphins
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 3
1-2
Won 24-10
Friday
Aug. 22
Jets @ New York Jets
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
PS - wk 4
1-3
Lost 9-15

1997 Season Results

Record: 11-7, DIV: 3-5 (2nd in NFC Central)
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Sunday
Aug. 31
49ers New York Giants
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 1
1-0
Won 13-6
Sunday
Sep. 7
Lions @ Detroit Lions
Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, MI
RS - wk 2
2-0
Won 24-17
Sunday
Sep. 14
Vikings @ Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
RS - wk 3
3-0
Won 28-14
Sunday
Sep. 21
Dolphins Miami Dolphins
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 4
4-0
Won 31-21
Sunday
Sep. 28
Cardinals Arizona Cardinals
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 5
5-0
Won 19-18
Sunday
Oct. 5
Packers @ Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
RS - wk 6
5-1
Lost 16-21
Sunday
Oct. 12
Lions Detroit Lions
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 7
5-2
Lost 9-27
Sunday
Oct. 19
BYE RS - wk 8
5-2
Sunday
Oct. 26
Vikings Minnesota Vikings
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 9
5-3
Lost 6-10
Sunday
Nov. 2
Colts @ Indianapolis Colts
RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
RS - wk 10
6-3
Won 31-28
Sunday
Nov. 9
Falcons @ Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
RS - wk 11
7-3
Won 31-10
Sunday
Nov. 16
Patriots New England Patriots
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 12
8-3
Won 27-7
Sunday
Nov. 23
Vikings @ Chicago Bears
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
RS - wk 13
8-4
Lost 7-13
Sunday
Nov. 30
Giants @ New York Giants
Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
RS - wk 14
9-4
Won 20-8
Sunday
Dec. 7
Packers Green Bay Packers
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 15
9-5
Lost 6-17
Sunday
Dec. 14
Jets @ New York Jets
Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
RS - wk 16
9-6
Lost 0-32
Sunday
Dec. 21
Bears Chicago Bears
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 17
10-6
Won 31-15
PLAYOFFS
Date   Opponent NFC/Superbowl Outcome
Sunday
Dec. 28
Lions Detroit Lions
Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PO - WILD CARD
11-6
Won 20-10
Sunday
Jan. 4
Packers @ Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
NFC DIVISIONAL
11-7
Lost 6-11

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