QB Brad Johnson didn't just set several Buccaneer passing records, he demolished them
The numbers just didn't add up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who finished 10th in the NFL in offense and fifth in defense yet weren't one of the 12 teams to qualify for the 2003 playoffs.
Many of the numbers were impressive nonetheless. Tampa Bay equaled its best offensive ranking ever and finished among the top 10 on defense for the seventh straight year. In fact, some very impressive marks were put up by individuals across the roster, as well as by the team itself. More than two dozen different individual and team records were broken in 2003.
Below is a look at the franchise standards set this past season. To browse the entire record book on Buccaneers.com, please click here.
- MOST PASSING YARDS, SEASON, Brad Johnson…3,811. Johnson surpassed the long-standing mark of 3,563, established by Doug Williams in 1981, and he did so by a comfortable margin. Williams' previous record was only nine yards, or 0.2%, better than the second-best mark of 3,554 put up by Steve DeBerg in 1984. In fact, only 167 yards separated the top four passing-yardage totals in team history before Johnson's big 2003. The new record, in contrast, is 248 yards beyond Williams' old standard.
- MOST PASS ATTEMPTS & COMPLETIONS, SEASON, Brad Johnson…570 and 354. Johnson simply bettered his own records in these two categories. He had previously set the records at 559 and 340 in 2001, his first year as a Buccaneer.
- MOST PASS ATTEMPTS, GAME, Brad Johnson…61. Johnson got this one during a losing cause. With the Bucs trailing Carolina most of the day on Sept. 14, Johnson dropped back on 62 of the team's 84 plays (he was also sacked once). The old record was 56 shared by Johnson (vs. Chicago, 11/18/01) and Williams (vs. Cleveland, 9/28/80).
- MOST TOUCHDOWN PASSES, SEASON, Brad Johnson…26. As with the yards, Johnson blew this record away, though he was only supplanting himself. Johnson had set the record at 22 the year before, a number that only beat Trent Dilfer's marks from 1997 and 1998 by one. Before Dilfer threw 21 those two years, the record had been 20 for almost two decades, first set by Williams in 1980 and then equaled by Vinny Testaverde in 1989.
- MOST CONSECUTIVE COMPLETIONS and MOST CONSECUTIVE PASSES WITHOUT BEING SACKED, Brad Johnson…18 and 160. These are sort of oddball records that aren't thought of much until someone breaks them. Johnson had shared the previous mark of 15 straight completions with DeBerg, but he connected on 18 in a row over the first two games of the season, the last 13 at Philadelphia (9/8) and the first five against Carolina (9/14). The second record obviously is a combination of Johnson's quick decision-making and the work of the offensive line in front of him. From the Sept. 14 Carolina game through the October 19 contest at San Francisco, Johnson went 160 straight pass attempts without being dropped; the old record was just 111.
- MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES THROWING A TOUCHDOWN PASS, Brad Johnson…11. The first 11 games of the season produced this record.
- MOST SACKS, GAME, Simeon Rice (tied)…4. Rice, who tied for second in the NFL with 15 sacks in 2003, got a quartet of them at Washington on Oct. 12. The only other Buc to have four sacks in a single game was Marcus Jones, who did it against Detroit on Oct. 19, 2000.
- BEST GROSS PUNTING AVERAGE, SEASON & GAME, Tom Tupa…43.25 and 52.0. Tupa tied the second of those two records on Dec. 7 in New Orleans, matching the 52.0 average he recorded in the same place a year before. The old season-long record was 43.13, by Mark Royals in 1999. Tupa had one of the best seasons ever by a Buccaneer punter. To read more about it, please click here.
- MOST TOTAL YARDS, SEASON, Team…5,453. The 2003 Buccaneers were the most prolific offense in team history, at least in terms of moving the football. The year before, Head Coach Jon Gruden's attack had pushed the team over 5,000 yards for the first time in 14 years, and in 2003 it got almost 10% better. The previous team record of 5,321 had stood since 1984, the last time the Bucs had ranked as high as 10th in overall offense.
- MOST PASS ATTEMPTS, COMPLETIONS, YARDS & TOUCHDOWNS, SEASON, Team…592, 369, 3,805 and 27. All of those are fairly obvious, of course, given Johnson's individual records in those categories. Backup Shaun King contributed 15 of 22 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown to get those numbers to their final totals. The old records were 592 (2001), 362 (2001), 3,545 (1984) and 23 (2002).
- BEST COMPLETION PERCENTAGE, SEASON, Team…62.3%. Though Johnson didn't match his individual record from 2002 in this category, King's help pushed the overall team mark to 62.3%. That topped the overall team mark of 61.4% from last season.
- MOST YARDS PENALIZED, SEASON, Team…1,104. Obviously, this mark differs from the rest in that the team was none too pleased to have set it. Still, it was one of the key storylines of the Bucs' less-than-satisfying season, and it broke the old record of 905 (1979) by an enormous margin.
- FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED, GAME, Team…0. Since this record can never be broken, it seems a little out of place with the rest of the achievements on this page. However, the Bucs' recent run of shutouts is well worth mentioning. Before the 2002 season, Tampa Bay had recorded four shutouts in the franchise's first 27 seasons; in the last two years, they have doubled that total. This season, the Bucs' two whitewashes came at the expense of Philadelphia (17-0 on 9/8) and Dallas (16-0 on 10/26).
- BEST GROSS PUNTING AVERAGE, SEASON & GAME, Team…43.25 and 52.0. See Tom Tupa's individual records above.
- MOST COMPLETIONS, GAME, Both Teams…60. The Bucs won't have many fond memories of the night of October 6, when this record was broken during Indianapolis' come-from-behind, 38-35 overtime win, but they will have a combined Tampa Bay record. The Colts completed 34 passes and the Bucs 26 in this shootout, beating the 57 combined completions by the Vikings and Bucs on Oct. 15, 1995.
- MOST POINTS, SECOND HALF, GAME, Team…28. The Bucs turned a tight game into a rout on Oct. 12 in Washington, eventually winning 35-13. Tampa Bay scored 28 points in the second half of that contest, the most they had ever put up after the intermission in a single game. The Bucs have scored 27 or more points in a single half on 10 other occasions, but those were all first-half outbursts. The team record for points in a half is 31, against Minnesota (10/29/00) and Chicago (12/22/96).
- FEWEST NET PASSING YARDS ALLOWED, HALF, Team…-3. Yes, we're getting a bit obscure with this one, but it is an indication of how thoroughly the Bucs dominated the Houston Texans on Dec. 14. The previous Buc record in this category was five yards allowed, against Kansas City on Nov. 14, 1999.
- LONGEST TOUCHDOWN DRIVE, Team…97 yards. The Bucs' 97-yard march against New Orleans on Nov. 2 couldn't prevent a last-minute, 17-14 loss, but it did match the longest TD drive in team history. The same distance was covered on a TD drive at Tennessee on Oct. 14, 2001, another game the Bucs lost by a field goal (31-28 in overtime). In fact, all four of the longest drives in franchise annals have occurred in the last three seasons under the direction of Johnson. The Bucs' 96-yarder vs. Atlanta on Dec. 20 of this year – helped immensely by a 76-yard scoring pass to WR Keenan McCardell – tied what had been the second-longest in Buc history, another 96-yarder at Detroit on Dec. 15, 2002.