Only one of the two teams set to do battle in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' regular-season schedule in 2011. Tampa Bay will play one of its eight road games next fall at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers, but won't be matched up against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Thus, only if Green Bay beats the Steelers will the Buccaneers have a chance to knock off the defending champs for the second year in a row and the fourth time since 1999.
Tampa Bay first defeated a defending Super Bowl championship team during the '99 season, after the Denver Broncos had won the second of two consecutive titles the previous January. The Broncos visited Raymond James Stadium in Week Three of that campaign and left with a 13-10 loss. The Buccaneers won largely on the strength of a stifling defense that allowed only 173 yards and a power running attack that produced 165 yards (131 and a touchdown by fullback Mike Alstott) and helped control the clock for nearly 37 of the game's 60 minutes.
That began a streak of three consecutive seasons in which the Buccaneers took down the defending champs. In December of 2000, Tampa Bay avenged its loss to the St. Louis Rams in the 1999 NFC Championship Game in one of the most thrilling contests in franchise history. The Rams visited Tampa in Week 16, with both teams fighting for a playoff spot, and the Bucs won a thrilling shootout over Kurt Warner and company, 38-35.
The following December, the defending-champion Baltimore Ravens also visited in Week 16, this time in a Saturday evening game on January 29 that was considered part of the Monday Night Football schedule. The Bucs won easily, 22-10, as Alstott again had a big game and both Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber intercepted Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac.
Tampa Bay had opportunities to defeat the defending Super Bowl champs in 2005 (New England), 2006 (Pittsburgh) and 2007 (Indianapolis) but came up short each time. Perhaps not coincidentally, all those games were played on the road. However, the Buccaneers got their first road win over a defending champ this past season, closing out their regular season with a 23-13 victory over the Saints in the Superdome.
The Buccaneers will play seven games against 2010 playoff teams during the regular season next fall. Click here to see the Bucs' entire list of opponents for 2011. The full NFL schedule with dates and times will be released in April.