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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How Long Will They Stand? takes a look at some of the oldest marks still standing in the team's record books and analyzes the chances of them being broken anytime soon


In 2009, new Tampa Bay Buccaneer Kellen Winslow caught 77 passes for 884 yards, both totals creating new franchise records for tight ends. The receptions mark had stood since 1995 (Jackie Harris, 62) and the yardage mark had stood since 1981 (Jimmie Giles, 786).

Giles' mark was one of the oldest ones in the Buccaneers' record book, first established in just the franchise's sixth season of play and surviving the parries of Harris, Ron Hall, Calvin Magee, Dave Moore, et al., until the arrival of Winslow.

Also last fall, linebacker Barrett Ruud racked up an impressive 205 tackles, becoming just the second player in team history to pass 200 in a single season. He didn't quite pass Hardy Nickerson's team standard of 213, so that mark set back in 1993 remains intact, with a chance to grow into one of the longest-standing in the book.

Each season brings a few new revisions to the Buccaneers' record book, of course. In 2008, for instance, Tampa Bay's offense piled up 5,456 yards of total offense, a new team record, while Brian Griese heaved up 67 passes in a comeback win at Chicago, the most ever by a Bucs passer. In 2005, Cadillac Williams ran for 1,178 yards, a new team record for rookies. In 2003, Brad Johnson threw for 3,811 yards, tops on the Bucs' list.

Some of those records, of course, are more likely to fall, thanks to changes in the game over the years. Johnson's 3,811-yard mark topped a record that had stood since 1981, when Doug Williams threw for 3,563, but the top five completion-percentage seasons in team history all belong to quarterbacks who played from 2002 on. The 5,456 yards in 2008 was just three more than the mark that had been set five years earlier in 2003. The NFL is clearly a more passing-oriented game now than it was in the Buccaneers' early years.

Still, Giles' record lasted 28 years, and Williams' passing mark stood for 22 seasons. Every now and again, a modern Buccaneers player accomplishes something that calls for a deeper edit to the record books.

Thus, we have decided to cull those pages to uncover some of the longest-standing records in team history, and discuss the likelihood of them falling anytime soon. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a fairly representative sampling of the team's oldest marks.


Record: 219 rushing yards in a single game

Record-Holder: James Wilder

Date/Season Set: Nov. 6, 1983 (at Minnesota)

Years Record Has Stood: 27

Will it Be Broken Soon?

Unlike Wilder's record of 407 carries in 1984, which seems solid given that few teams give one running back such a huge percentage of the team's carries anymore, this mark would seemingly be in jeopardy each and every week. In fact, Warrick Dunn assailed it in 2000 against Dallas but came up just short when he had 210 yards. On the other hand, those are the only 200-yard games in team history, and only Errict Rhett's 192-yard outing against Washington in 1994 comes close.

The Buccaneers appear likely to split carries again in 2010 between Williams, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham, which would seem to lessen the likelihood that any one of the three would pile up such a high individual number. However, it was clear even last season that Head Coach Raheem Morris will stick with a hot hand if one emerges on any given Sunday. All three backs have shown big-play potential, which also seems essential to the quest. Few backs are going to get enough carries to grind out a 200-yard day without sprinkling in a few 30 and 40-yarders.

There is nothing in the current makeup of the NFL that would prohibit such a day, either. Passing may be more prevalent than it was in the early '80s, but offenses as a whole generate higher numbers these days. The four highest single-game rushing totals in NFL history have all occurred since 2000 and there were 45 200-yard games in the NFL from 2000-09.

Finally, Tampa Bay's running backs should be in a better position to challenge the mark if the offense as a whole gains the improvement that is expected in 2010. If the Bucs can build some early leads in their games this fall, that will allow the offense to focus on the running game more rather than playing catch-up.


Record: 486 passing yards in a single game

Record-Holder: Doug Williams

Date/Season Set: Nov. 16, 1980 (at Minnesota)

Years Record Has Stood: 30

Will it Be Broken Soon?

It might take overtime, or a huge Buccaneer comeback, or both?

That's what happened in Chicago on September 21, 2008, the last time a Buccaneer passer eclipsed 400 yards in a game. In the same contest mentioned above, with Griese throwing 67 passes, the Buccaneers rallied from a 24-14 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 27-24 in overtime. With time running out, Griese threw over and over again, and eventually compiled 407 yards for the third-highest total in team history.

However, even with all of that he wasn't even within 75 yards of Williams' record, which unsurprisingly came in a shootout, 38-30, loss at Metropolitan Stadium. Vinny Testaverde is the only one who has really challenged the mark, throwing for 469 yards in a 35-31 loss at Indianapolis in 1988.

In fact, perhaps the question should be, 'Do the Bucs want this record to be broken?' It's no coincidence that, of the 10 top individual passing performances in team history, eight occurred in losses. This one will probably require a shootout and the need for a comeback, and that's not the type of game the Bucs want to be involved in very frequently.


Record: 7 forced fumbles in a single season

Record-Holder: Wally Chambers

Date/Season Set: 1979

Years Record Has Stood: 31

Will it Be Broken Soon?

First, we have to clarify the above information so as not to be misleading. Chambers' record has indeed gone unbroken for 31 years, but it has been tied. Twice in fact, including quite recently by Stylez G. White (then known as Greg White) in 2007. In between, Broderick Thomas also equaled the mark in 1991.

Those three share the record now, but Chambers' name remains in the record book because he has yet to be topped. One thing is clear from that list: The record-breaker is almost certainly going to need to be a pass-rusher. Chambers had 5.5 sacks in 1979, Thomas had 11.0 in 1991 and White had 8.0 in 2007. The surest way to pile up forced fumbles is to rush the quarterback from the edge and chop at his arm before he realizes you're on him.

With that in mind, it's somewhat surprising that Simeon Rice did not break the record during his six years with the team. He certainly got close; he had six forced fumbles in 2002, six more in 2003, another six in 2005 and four in 2006. In his prime, Rice was a master of the quarterback arm swipe, making his high sack total even more impactful.

By that theory, the record likely won't be challenged again until the Buccaneers find another superior edge rusher. Of course, that could be White, who has obviously proven he can challenge the mark. If the addition of defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price have the effect many have posited it will have on edge rushers like White and his end teammates, the opportunity will certainly be there.


Record: 80-yard fumble return

Record-Holder: Cedric Brown

Date/Season Set: Oct. 19, 1980 (at Houston)

Years Record Has Stood: 30

Will it Be Broken Soon?

Well, why not? This one is simply a matter of luck and opportunity, and the Buccaneers certainly should be in line for a few more fortunate bounces this year when the ball comes loose. Last season, Buccaneer opponents fumbled 25 times but only five of them ended up in the hands of a Tampa Bay player. In contrast, the Bucs fumbled seven times fewer than their opponents (18) but twice as many (10) went over to the other team.

The Bucs averaged 13 fumble recoveries per season in the three previous years, so that would seem like a more likely mark for the team in 2010. Then, they have to get their hands on one in just the right situation – probably with a defender catching a hop on the dead run with the sideline open in front of him. Is that particularly likely? No. But it wasn't all that likely when Brown got his long return, or Martin Mayhew took one 78 yards to the house in 1995. Those are the only two fumble returns of over 60 yards in Buccaneers history; perhaps the best we can say is that the team is due for another one.


Record: 78.5 career sacks

Record-Holder: Lee Roy Selmon

Date/Season Set: 1976-84

Years Record Has Stood: 26

Will it Be Broken Soon?

Selmon got the last two of his 78.5 sacks in his very last game for the Buccaneers, the 1984 season finale at home against the New York Jets, and he almost surely would have padded those numbers if not for a back injury that finished his career after the 1985 Pro Bowl. Stopping at 78.5 actually kept him within striking distance for Warren Sapp, who arrived in 1995 and by the time he left nine seasons later had 77.0. Rice overlapped with Sapp for three seasons and finished with 69.5 sacks; nobody else in team history has reached 40.

Can Selmon be caught, now that Sapp's charge came up just short? Well, Selmon's accomplishment is certainly rare, as it landed him in the Hall of Fame, where he remains the only player who was primarily a Buccaneer to be enshrined. Sapp showed that the record is within reach but he, like Selmon, was a once-in-a-generation find, a talent that doesn't come along often. Perhaps 2010 first-rounder Gerald McCoy will be the next star in that line, but it's always difficult to predict that level of accomplishment for any player. One thing is for certain: No matter how good McCoy or some future Buccaneer pass-rusher prove to be, Selmon's record is safe again for a long time.


Record: 8 touchdowns scored by a rookie

Record-Holder: Lars Tate

Date/Season Set: 1988

Years Record Has Stood: 22

Will it Be Broken Soon?

Rookie single-season records are probably the most difficult to predict, because there's no way to know at this point what positions the team may address with its highest picks next year or in 2012 or 2013. Had Cadillac Williams come off the board before the Bucs picked in 2005 – or had a better 2004 record put them lower in the draft – then Errict Rhett's franchise rookie record of 1,011 rushing yards in 1994 would probably still be standing.

As it is, we can only consider this year's rookie class. It would be silly to predict a defensive player scoring nine touchdowns in a season, so the only real candidates are wide receivers Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Benn and Williams have certainly looked impressive on the practice field so far, but nine-TD seasons don't come along that often for Buccaneer receivers of any stripe, let alone rookies. There have been only four of them in team history, in fact; Joey Galloway had 10 in 2005 and Mark Carrier (1989), Bruce Hill (1988) and Kevin House (1981) all had nine-score campaigns.


Record: 70 punt returns in a single season

Record-Holder: Danny Reece

Date/Season Set: 1979

Years Record Has Stood: 31

Will it Be Broken Soon?

It's not likely many Buccaneer fans could have named the record-holder in this category, but it's actually a quietly impressive mark for two reasons.

First, those 70 punt returns are also an NFL record that has lasted for more than three decades. Only one other player in the entire league over the past 31 years has even surpassed 60 punt returns – Fulton Walker, who played for both Miami and the L.A. Raiders in 1985. The most by any player during the 2000s was 58 by Seattle's Nate Burleson in 2007.

Second, it required a rather fearless approach to the job by Reece, who incredibly only called for one fair catch the entire season. It's not like any stigma is attached to the occasional fair catch – last year's top three punt returners in the NFL (DeSean Jackson, Wes Welker and Patrick Crayton) averaged 18 fair catches each in 2009. Still, Reece essentially refused to exercise that option, as evidenced by his career numbers: 222 punt returns, seven fair catches.

The Buccaneers also forced 104 punts that season with their number-one ranked defense. That's the highest number of punts in a single season ever against the Buccaneer and not likely to be duplicated. Even the 2002 defense, maybe one of the best in NFL history, forced only 99 punts. It is not likely that this combination of factors is going to occur again anytime soon.


Record: 100 punts

Record-Holder: Dave Green

Date/Season Set: 1978

Years Record Has Stood: 32

Will it Be Broken Soon?

Oh, let's hope not!

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