Tampa Bay has ruined undefeated Minnesota seasons at the end of October in two of the last three years...guess who's on the schedule for that weekend in 2001
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will appear on two prime time nationally televised games this fall, both during the season's home stretch after Thanksgiving. The Bucs' two opponents for that pair of ABC games are the last two Super Bowl Champions.
The NFL released the 2001 schedule on Thursday, a ledger that shows the Buccaneers kicking off the season at Dallas on Sunday, December 9. The schedule's highlights include a Monday night game at St. Louis on November 26 and a Saturday night game at home against Baltimore on December 29.
"The important element of a schedule is its balance between home and away games, with the hope of avoiding the three consecutive road game situation," said General Manager Rich McKay. "This is a very balanced schedule. It sets up nicely for us and allows us to end our season with two home games, the last being a nationally-televised event."
The Baltimore game is an ABC broadcast, taking the place of the network's weekly Monday night game. There is no Monday night game scheduled for that weekend, as it would fall on New Year's Eve.
The Buccaneers' full 2001 schedule follows. For a printable version of this schedule in an Adobe Acrobat file (.pdf), please click here.
|Preseason (All times Eastern)|
|Mon.||Aug. 13||MIAMI||8:00 PM||ESPN|
|Sat.||Aug. 18||at Cleveland||tba|
|Sat.||Aug. 25||NEW ENGLAND||tba|
|Fri.||Aug. 31||at Atlanta||tba|
|Regular Season (All times Eastern)|
|Sun.||Sept. 9||at Dallas||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Sept. 16||PHILADELPHIA||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Sept. 30||at Minnesota||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Oct. 7||GREEN BAY||4:15 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Oct. 14||at Tennessee||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Oct. 21||PITTSBURGH||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Sun.||Oct. 28||MINNESOTA||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Nov. 4||at Green Bay||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Nov. 11||at Detroit||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Nov. 18||CHICAGO||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Mon.||Nov. 26||at St. Louis||9:00 PM||ABC|
|Sun.||Dec. 2||at Cincinnati||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Dec. 9||DETROIT||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Dec. 16||at Chicago||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun.||Dec. 23||NEW ORLEANS||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sat.||Dec. 29||BALTIMORE||9:00 PM||ABC|
2001 Schedule Notes
· Tampa Bay takes one the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in its season finale, an ABC Saturday Night game. A victory over the Ravens could extend a remarkable streak for the Buccaneers. In each of the past two seasons, the Bucs have defeated the previous year's Super Bowl champion. After Denver won Super Bowl XXXIII, the Buccaneers beat the Broncos the following fall, September 26, 1999, by a 13-10 margin. Last season, Tampa Bay won a thriller over the Super Bowl XXXIV Champions, St. Louis, 38-35, on Monday Night Football, December 18, 2000. Overall, the Buccaneers have faced the previous year's champions in 10 of their 25 years of existence, but they failed to earn a victory the first eight times (despite two chances each against Green Bay in 1997 and Chicago in 1986).
· Tampa Bay last played at Dallas in 1990, losing 14-10 on October 7. Though the Buccaneers did record their first-ever victory over the Cowboys last fall in Raymond James Stadium (27-7 on December 3), Dallas remains one of nine current teams the Buccaneers have yet to beat on the road (excluding Baltimore and Buffalo, teams the Bucs have never played on the road). Tampa Bay will also get an opportunity to record its first road win against Tennessee (formerly Houston) on October 14.
· The season-ender at Baltimore will be the first Bucs-Ravens meeting. Baltimore joined the league as an expansion team in 1996, technically, when the team was moved from Cleveland but the original city retained the rights to the franchise. There are four teams that the Buccaneers have beaten the first time they faced them: Arizona (then St. Louis), Carolina, Jacksonville and New Orleans. The Carolina and Jacksonville victories occurred in 1995, the first seasons for those two expansion teams. The Arizona and New Orleans victories were historic ones in Buc history: a 33-14 win over the Saints on December 11, 1977 was the first victory in franchise history and the 17-7 downing of the Cardinals a week later was the first home victory for Tampa Bay.
· The Bucs will play seven games in 2001 against teams that qualified for the playoffs last year, including two against Minnesota. The other returning playoff teams on the Bucs' slate are Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis, Tennessee and Philadelphia. The Bucs will have an opportunity to avenge their playoff loss of last year in the home opener, when the Eagles visit on September 16.
· Tampa Bay has an opportunity to move over .500 all-time on Monday Night Football. The Bucs are currently 4-4 in that department, although all four of their wins have come at home. Tampa Bay's only Monday night opportunity this season will be on the road, at St. Louis on November 26, since its other ABC game is on a Saturday before a Monday New Year's Eve.
· The 2001 season will mark the second straight year, and the third time in the last four years, that the Buccaneers will open on the road. The 2000 season kicked off at New England and the 1998 campaign opened with road contests at Minnesota and Detroit as Tampa's new Raymond James Stadium was being completed. The Bucs did open at home in 1999 with a 17-13 loss to the New York Giants. Strangely, this will be the seventh time the Buccaneers have opened with an NFC East opponent, and the second time in three years they have begun the season with two games against NFC East foes. In 1999, the Bucs followed their loss to the Giants with a 19-5 win at Philadelphia. This year, the trip to Dallas will again be followed by an Eagles game, this one in Raymond James Stadium.
· If you're like us, the first thing you looked for on this schedule were late-season road games. Looking for its first-ever win in a game in which the kickoff temperature is below 40 degrees, the Bucs could get that opportunity at Chicago on December 16, at Cincinnati on December 2 or, conceivably, at Detroit on November 11 or Green Bay on November 4.
· The Bucs' 2001 road tour also includes some interesting stops for stadium reasons. When the team hits Cincy on December 2, it will be the Buccaneers' first chance to play in the new Paul Brown Stadium, opened last season. Two weeks later, the Bucs may help shut down Soldier Field for awhile. Tampa Bay's December 16 game at Chicago will be the Bears' regular season home finale for 2001. Following the season, Soldier Field will be shut down for renovations and the Bears will find a temporary home until the new stadium's completion in 2003.
· Take heed, transplanted Pennsylvanians. This year marks the first time the Bucs have played both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the same season. Both the Eagles and Steelers will visit Tampa during the first half of the season.
· And if you're reading the tea leaves looking for encouragement, keep this in mind: The season's post-Labor Day start puts the Bucs' last home game on December 29, one of the team's latest regular season games ever. In regular season games played after Christmas Day, the Bucs' all-time record is 7-3.
· Last season, the Buccaneers were 8-2 in regular-season games that started at 1:00 p.m. and 2-4 in all games starting later. Note on this year's schedule that the Buccaneers are currently scheduled to play 13 games starting at 1:00 p.m.
· If the Minnesota Vikings get off to a hot start, they may want to circle October 28 on their calendars. In 1998, the undefeated Vikings visited Raymond James Stadium on November 1 and left with their first loss, a 27-24 Buccaneer victory. Last year, the undefeated Vikings visited Tampa again on the same weekend, October 29, and were pummeled 41-13.
· For the first time ever, the Buccaneers will play five regular-season games in the month of December. That should be viewed as particularly good news for this team, which has a stellar record of 12-7 in December regular-season games since Head Coach Tony Dungy arrived in 1996.
· When Chicago visits Raymond James Stadium on November 18, they will be attempting to avoid a sixth straight loss in Tampa. The Buccaneers' current streak of five straight home wins against the Bears is their longest ever against any one team.
· The Bucs' sojourn to the Gateway City on November 26 will be their first trip back since the heartbreaking NFC Championship Game loss on January 23, 2000. In its first game ever in the Rams' TransWorld Dome, Tampa Bay held a 6-5 lead with five minutes remaining before falling 11-6. The Rams went on to win the Super Bowl.