WR Joey Galloway caught two touchdown passes in the season finale against New Orleans, breaking a team record in the process
By any measure, Joey Galloway assembled a masterpiece of a season in 2005, one of the finest ever by a Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver. He did not, however, break any team records until he had almost run out of time.
In the end, Galloway used two simple little routes – a pivot and a fade-stop – in the Buccaneers' season finale to become the most prolific single-season scorer among receivers in the team's 30-year history.
The 34-year-old Galloway, still perhaps the fastest man in the NFL, enjoyed a career season in 2005 and he capped it with two touchdowns in a 27-13, division title-clinching win over New Orleans on New Year's Day. That gave him 10 receiving touchdowns on the season, breaking the Buccaneer record in that category by one. It had originally been set at nine by Kevin House in 1981, a total matched by Bruce Hill in 1988 and Mark Carrier in 1989.
Galloway's double-digit TD campaign was just one of a handful of new Buccaneer team and individual records set in 2005 and it was fitting that it put him at the top of at least one list. One of the most prolific performers in the NFL this season, Galloway finished with 83 receptions for 1,287 yards. That is the fifth-highest reception total and second-highest yardage total in team annals.
Galloway's effort would have been magnificent without the record, of course, but the Bucs' season might not have ended as well. He scored both of the team's offensive touchdowns in the game that gave the Bucs their second-division title in four years, staking the home team to a 17-10 first-half lead with TD grabs of seven and four yards. On the first one, in the first quarter, he ran the pivot, darting into the end zone and taking a step to the outside before spinning back to the inside to lose his man. On the second one, in the second quarter, Galloway was well-covered as he ran straight into the painted grass, but he spun to catch a pass that quarterback Chris Simms purposely threw low and behind him.
The Bucs didn't clinch the win until Dewayne White added a fumble-return touchdown in the closing minutes, but Galloway's two scores greatly improved their outlook. The Bucs were 6-2 in 2005 when their top receiver reached the end zone.
Galloway's touchdown mark was one of the Bucs' three most noteworthy new individual records set in 2005. The other two belonged to running back Cadillac Williams and punter Josh Bidwell. Here's a look at those two fresh standards and the other records rewritten or closely challenged this past season.
Williams, of course, was setting NFL records before the season was even a month old. His 434 rushing yards in the Bucs' first three contests, a new league record for the most ever by a player in the first three games of his career, got him started towards a 1,178-yard campaign. Despite a six-game lull in the middle of the season caused by a significant foot injury, the former Auburn star crushed the previous Buccaneer rookie rushing record.
Errict Rhett is the only other rookie back in franchise history to post a 1,000-yard season, edging into four digits in 1994 with 1,011 yards. Williams raced past that with his 150-yard outing against Atlanta in Week 16 and finished with the fifth-highest total in team history, just surpassing the 1,171 rushing yards put up by Reggie Cobb in 1992.
Along the way, Williams was responsible for three of the top 10 single-game rushing efforts in team history. He had 158 yards at Green Bay (9/25), 150 vs. Atlanta (12/24) and 148 at Minnesota (9/11), recording the seventh, ninth and 10th-best rushing days by a Buccaneer.
Williams had three other 100-yard games during the season, giving him six overall. That wasn't just a rookie record, it was the most by any Buccaneer in a single year. The previous record was five, shared by Ricky Bell (1979), James Wilder (1984 and 1985) and Warrick Dunn (1997). Finally, Williams' 290 carries were the fourth-most in team history, and the highest mark by a Tampa Bay back in a decade, since Rhett had 332 in 1995.
Bidwell clearly had the finest season by a punter in franchise history, as evidenced by his invitation to be the NFC's punter in the Pro Bowl. The first Pro Bowl punter in Buc annals, Bidwell set a team record with a final gross punting average of 45.6. That's a rather large jump from the previous record of 43.3, set by Tom Tupa in 2003.
How large? Consider that the record had been broken four times since 1995 but had advanced only from 42.8 to 43.3, a half-yard. Bidwell blew by the old mark by 2.3 yards.
Bidwell didn't break any other team records, but he was awfully close. His net average of 37.5 was the second-best in team history, trailing only Tommy Barnhardt's 1996 mark of 37.8. And Bidwell's 24 punts dropped inside the 20 were tied for fourth-best in Buccaneer history.
On October 9, Bidwell averaged 51.8 yards on five punts in New York against the Jets. That was the third-best single-game mark in team history, barely trailing two 52.0-yard games by Tom Tupa in 2002 and 2003. Notably, both of Tupa's big days came in the Superdome in New Orleans; Bidwell's day in the Meadowlands was the best ever outdoors by a Buc punter, in a stadium renowned for its swirling winds.
LB Shelton Quarles and DE Simeon Rice challenged two of the team's most important defensive records without quite taking the top spot.
Quarles, who broke Derrick Brooks' seven-year hold on the single-season tackle lead, kept piling up stops until the closing minutes of the season. By racking up an incredible 21 tackles in the final game, Quarles finished with 196, the second-highest total in franchise history. Hardy Nickerson still owns the standard with his 214-tackle season in 1993, but the previous number-two entry on the list had been Nickerson's 193 in 1997. Brooks, by the way, owns the next three highest totals with 189 in 1998, 182 in 1997 and 180 in 1999.
Rice made a late push at the single-season sack record, though in the end he didn't even set his own career high, or his best mark as a Buccaneer. Rice had four sacks in the Bucs' last two games, giving him 14 on the season, which was also his fifth double-digit sack campaign in five years with Tampa Bay.
Rice's personal career best is 16.5, set while with the Arizona Cardinals in 1999. That number is also the Buccaneers' single-season record, though it belongs to Warren Sapp, who set the mark in 2000. With his 14-sack campaign this fall, Rice now owns the next three highest totals – he had 15.5 in 2002 and 15 in 2003 and five of the top nine. He also hit double digits in sacks for the seventh time in his career, the most by any active player.
A few odds and ends for the record book:
- K Matt Bryant tied a record that had been set 11 times before by making all of his extra point attempts during the season. Bryant was 31 of 31 on PATs, becoming the first Buc kicker to be perfect in that regard since Martin Gramatica in 2002. Bryant also challenged the team's field-goal accuracy record, making 84.0% of his kicks (21-25). Steve Christie still owns the record at 85.2%, set in 1990 (23-27). * QB Brian Griese's season lasted just six games before he was felled by a knee injury. He needed only one game to break a team record, however. Griese finished the 2004 season (not counting the season finale, in which he didn't play) by throwing at least one touchdown in 11 straight games. That tied the team record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, first set by Brad Johnson in 2003, which allowed Griese to break it by throwing for two scores in the season-opening win at Minnesota. The record streak ended at 12 when he did not throw a touchdown pass in a Week Two win over Buffalo. * QB Chris Simms took over for Griese for the last 10 starts and also performed very well. Among his top accomplishments was a 61.0% completion rate, which is the fourth-best single-season mark in Buc annals. Simms also had a fine 2.2% interception rate, which is the third-best mark in that category in team history. * As a team, the Bucs tied their record for fewest fumbles in a season, losing the handle on the ball only 16 times. The Bucs had hit the same number in 2000. On a less positive note, the Bucs set a new high for penalties committed during a season, with 131. The previous record was 118, set in 1984. * The Bucs' rush defense was drastically improved in 2005. That is reflected in several numbers, including the low total of 75 rushing first downs allowed all season. That tied the team record, first set in 1998 and then matched in 1999. In addition, the 1,515 rushing yards allowed by Tampa Bay in '05 was its second stingiest mark ever, following a 1,408-yard effort in 1999.