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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

News & Notes, 2003 Final

A look back at the team and individual accomplishments of the 2003 season, as compiled by the Buccaneers' award-winning media relations department


DE Simeon Rice, who will start in the Pro Bowl in February, has more sacks since December of 2001 than any other player in the NFL

At the end of each season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' award-winning media relations department prepares a lengthy release for distribution to local and national members of the media. The release reviews the season and keeps an eye on team notes, stats and trends.

Highlights from this comprehensive document are now available to the team's fans on, exclusively in the Stadium Club section. Review the best moments and performances of 2003 by reading directly what used to be filtered through the media covering the team.


2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Year in Review

  • Final Record: 7-9 (3-5 Home, 4-4 Road) * Pro Bowl Selections: 4…LB Derrick Brooks (starter), WR Keenan McCardell, DE Simeon Rice (starter), DT Warren Sapp * AP All-Pro Selections: 2…LB Derrick Brooks (second team), DE Simeon Rice (second team)


Tampa Bay finished the 2003 season with a 7-9 mark and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 1998 season. The Buccaneers still have notched four playoff appearances since 1999, tied for most in the NFL. Tampa Bay played seven games against 2003 playoff teams during the season.


Tampa Bay's defense finished the year ranked in the Top 10 in total defense for the seventh straight season (1997-2003), the longest current streak in the league. The Bucs also ranked in the Top 10 in both total offense and passing offense in the same year for just the second time in team history (also 1984).


The 2004 schedule features five 2003 playoff teams - Carolina, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis and Seattle, including three division winners: Carolina (NFC South), Kansas City (AFC West) and St. Louis (NFC West). The Bucs' 2004 opponents combined for a 100-108 (.481) record in 2003.

Home Games (2003 Record) * Atlanta (5-11) * Carolina (11-5) * Chicago (7-9) * Denver (10-6) * Kansas City (13-3) * New Orleans (8-8) * San Francisco (7-9) * Seattle (10-6)

Away Games (2003 Record) * Atlanta (5-11) * Arizona (4-12) * Carolina (11-5) * New Orleans (8-8) * Oakland (4-12) * St. Louis (12-4) * San Diego (4-12) * Washington (5-11)


Tampa Bay's defense finished the year ranked in the Top 10 in total defense for the seventh straight season (1997-2003), the longest streak in the league.

Final Bucs Total Defense Rankings

YearNFL RankingTotal Yards Per Game

NFL Fewest Points Allowed Since 1997 *

TeamTotal Points Allowed
Tampa Bay1,802

*List does not include Cleveland and Houston since they have not been in the league every year since 1997


A look at how the Bucs finished in the final 2003 NFC and NFL rankings:

Team CategoryNFCNFL
Total Offense (340.8 ypg)6th10th
Rushing Offense (103.0 ypg)12th24th
Passing Offense (237.8 ypg)3rd6th
Total Defense (279.1 ypg)2nd5th
Rushing Defense (109.8 ypg)5th13th
Passing Defense (169.4 ypg)2nd3rd
Points Scored (18.8 ppg)9th18th
Points Allowed (16.5 ppg)2nd4th
Sacks (36)t8tht13th
Sacks Allowed (23)3rd5th
Turnover Margin (+2)t5tht10th
First Downs (19.2 pg)6th11th
First Downs Allowed (15.6 pg)2nd4th
Third Downs (35.5%)11th21st
Third Downs Defense (31.8%)2nd5th
Gross Punting Average (43.3)2nd5th
Red Zone Offense (55.0 TD%)6th10th
Red Zone Defense (35.0 TD%)1st2nd
Individual CategoryNFCNFL
Passing Yards (Johnson - 3,811)3rd5th
Passing TDs (Johnson - 26)t2ndt3rd
Passer Rating (Johnson - 81.5)5th12th
Completion Pct. (Johnson - 62.1)4th11th
Completions (Johnson - 354)1st2nd
Attempts (Johnson - 570)1st1st
Scoring (McCardell - 54 pts. )t9thn/a
Kicking (Gramatica - 81 pts. )13thn/a
Rushing (Pittman - 751 yds. )13thn/a
Rushing (Jones - 627 yds. )16thn/a
Receptions (McCardell - 84)5th10th
Receptions (Pittman - 75)9thn/a
Receiving Yards (McCardell - 1,174)5th8th
Total Yards (Pittman - 1,348)10thn/a
Total Yards (McCardell - 1,174)13thn/a
Gross Punting (Tupa - 43.3 avg. )3rd6th
Net Punting (Tupa - 35.9 avg)4th10th
Interceptions (Smith - 5)t6thn/a
Sacks (Rice - 15.0)2ndt2nd


The Bucs defense finished fifth in total defense (279.1 ypg) and third in passing defense (169.4 ypg), marking the seventh consecutive season (1997-2003) it has ranked among the league's Top 10 in total defense, the longest current streak in the league. Tampa Bay's defense has now also finished in the Top 10 in pass defense in seven of the previous eight seasons (1996-99, 2001-03), including three straight.

Tampa Bay ranked in the Top 10 in both total offense and passing offense in the same year for just the second time in team history (also 1984). The Bucs finished 10th in the NFL in total offense (340.8 ypg) and sixth in passing offense (237.8 ypg). The 2003 Bucs equaled their best-ever total offense ranking (10th in 1984) and set a new mark with the 340.8 ypg average, surpassing the previous club-record of 332.6 ypg in 1984. The passing offense ranking also ties the team record (sixth in 1982) and surpasses the previous yardage mark (221.6 ypg in 1984).


As it so often has since 1995, the Buccaneers defense looked to LB Derrick Brooks to lead their vaunted defense in 2003. Long considered the NFL's best linebacker and winner of the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, Brooks did not disappoint on a defense that ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense as he was named to the Pro Bowl for the seventh consecutive season, breaking Lee Roy Selmon's team record for total and consecutive appearances (DT Warren Sapp also earned his seventh straight Pro Bowl showing). He also became only the 11th linebacker in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at least seven times.

NFL Linebackers Named to Seven or More Pro Bowls

Robert BrazileHouston (1975-1984)7
Derrick BrooksTampa Bay (1995-)7
Harry CarsonN.Y. Giants (1976-1988)9
Randy GradisharDenver (1974-1983)7
Jack HamPittsburgh (1971-1982)8
Ted HendricksBalt./GB/Oak/LA (1969-1983)8
Jack LambertPittsburgh (1974-1984)9
Junior SeauSan Diego/Miami (1990-)12
Mike SingletaryChicago (1981-1992)10
Lawrence TaylorN.Y. Giants (1981-1993)10
Derrick ThomasKansas City (1989-1999)9

Brooks finished the season with 151 tackles, one sack, two interceptions (including one for a touchdown), three forced fumbles and nine passes defensed. The franchise's all-time leader in tackles with 1,428 career stops, Brooks posted 151 tackles on the season to lead the defense, marking the sixth consecutive season and seventh time overall he has been the team's leading tackler. Brooks has posted 100 or more tackles in eight straight seasons (1996-2003), tied with Miami LB Zach Thomas for the longest current streak in the NFL.

He also finished the 2003 season ranked tied for second on the defense in interceptions (2) and tied for third in passes defensed (9). Brooks also recorded his seventh career touchdown (including playoffs) in 2003 at Washington (10/12) when he intercepted QB Patrick Ramsey and returned it 44 yards for the score. In 2002, Brooks recorded five touchdowns off turnovers, including a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

His 2003 accomplishments are listed below: * Chosen to represent the NFC for a club-record seventh consecutive season as an outside linebacker in the 2004 Pro Bowl. Named a starter for the sixth straight year (1998-2003). * Named to the Associated Press All-Pro Second Team. * Led or tied for team lead in tackles in seven games. * Recorded double-digit tackle numbers in 10 games. * Led the team in tackles with 151, including 98 solo. * Tied for second on the team with two interceptions and tied for third with 9 passes defensed. * Scored his seventh career touchdown (including playoffs), returning an interception 44 yards at Washington.


The 2003 season could easily be considered the best of WR Keenan McCardell's 12-year career as he was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career (also in 1996 with Jacksonville). In his second season with the Bucs, McCardell led the team with 84 receptions for 1,174 yards and a career-high eight touchdown receptions. He closed the year ranked fifth in the NFC in receptions, fifth in receiving yards and tied for seventh in TD catches. He also tied for ninth among non-kickers with 54 points scored. For the season, he had a team-best 13 receptions for 20 or more yards. His 84 receptions marked the fourth-most in a single season in club history and his 1,171 receiving yards in 2003 were also fourth-best in a single season.

McCardell eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards against his hometown Houston Texans in Week 15, becoming just the fifth player in team history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in a season. It was the fifth time in his career that he accomplished the feat and the third time in the last four seasons. Earlier in the season, facing his former team at Jacksonville, McCardell became just the 17th player in league history to reach 700 career receptions. His 724 career receptions are the fifth-most among active receivers. Since 1996, McCardell has 644 receptions, which ranks as fourth-most in the NFL over that span.

Along with being QB Brad Johnson's go-to target, McCardell also evolved into a deep threat in 2003, recording the three longest receptions of his career with scoring passes of 74 (vs. Indianapolis), 75 (at San Francisco) and 76 (vs. Atlanta) yards. His average of 14.0 yards per catch was the highest of his career since he averaged 18.2 yards on 10 catches with the Cleveland Browns in 1994.

In McCardell's last 12 games of 2003, he caught 67 passes for 969 yards (14.5 avg.) and six touchdowns, including four 100-yard receiving games. Over that span, he averaged 5.6 receptions and 80.8 yards per game and led the team in receptions in eight of those 12 games. In 2003, McCardell hauled in all eight of his TD catches in losses. Two of those scores were potential game-winning touchdowns and a third touchdown would have pushed another game into overtime.

McCardell has enjoyed a wide range of success since the inception of the newly created NFC South in 2002, totaling 66 receptions for 853 yards and nine TDs. In addition, he owns nine TDs in 11 games against the NFC South and has at least one TD catch in every division game (six) played at Raymond James Stadium.

Most Career Receptions - Active Players

PlayerCurrent TeamReceptions
Jerry RiceOakland1,519
Tim BrownOakland1,070
Larry CentersNew England827
Shannon SharpeDenver815
Marvin HarrisonIndianapolis759
Keenan McCardellTampa Bay724

Most Receptions Since 1996

PlayerCurrent TeamReceptions
Marvin HarrisonIndianapolis759
Jimmy SmithJacksonville696
Tim BrownOakland665
Keenan McCardellTampa Bay644
Rod SmithDenver627

Bucs Single-Season Receptions

Keyshawn Johnson2001106
Mark Carrier198986
James Wilder (RB)198485
Keenan McCardell200384
Keyshawn Johnson200276
Kevin House198476

Bucs Single-Season Receiving Yards

Mark Carrier19891,422
Keyshawn Johnson20011,266
Kevin House19811,176
Keenan McCardell20031,174
Keyshawn Johnson20021,088


This season, QB Brad Johnson and Tampa Bay's offense utilized an array of different receivers to compile a franchise mark for passing yards in a single season. In 16 regular season games, seven different players, including a member of all three eligible position groups (wide receivers, running backs and tight ends), led or tied for the team lead in receptions:

  • WR Keenan McCardell (8) - at Washington (5), vs. Dallas (6), at Carolina (9), vs. Green Bay (5), vs. New York Giants (9), at Jacksonville (8), at New Orleans (6) and vs. Houston – tied (5). * WR Keyshawn Johnson (3) - at Philadelphia (6), vs. Carolina (9) and vs. New Orleans (10). * RB Michael Pittman (4) - at Atlanta (7), at San Francisco (10), vs. Houston - tied (5) and at Tennessee - tied (4). * WR Charles Lee (2) - vs. Atlanta (10) and at Tennessee – tied (four). * TE Ken Dilger (1) - vs. Indianapolis (6). * RB Thomas Jones (1) - at Tennessee – tied (4). * WR Edell Shepherd (1) - at Tennessee – tied (4).

McCardell was the most consistent pass catcher of the group, leading the team in receptions in 8-of-10 games during the middle of the season, including six consecutive contests (at Carolina, vs. Green Bay, vs. the New York Giants, at Jacksonville, at New Orleans and vs. Houston) in November and December.

Lee emerged as a dependable pass catcher, as well as a frequent big-play threat, down the stretch, topping the chart in terms of receptions during each of the season's final two weeks.


Playmaker, leader and tough guy are all strong attributes that describe CB Ronde Barber.

Playmaker: Tampa Bay's best cover man completed his seventh NFL season, and was named a first-team alternate on this year's Pro Bowl team. He is ranked fifth in club history with 20 career interceptions and has six career touchdowns, including a 29-yard interception return for a score against Indianapolis this season. Barber, along with DE Simeon Rice, were the lone Buccaneer players to record a defensive statistic in every category compiled by the team in 2003.

Leader: Barber anchored a secondary that played the majority of the season without fellow CB Brian Kelly and saw five-time Pro Bowl CB John Lynch limited because of injury. With the injury to Kelly, Barber lined up opposite of second-year pros Tim Wansley and Corey Ivy, and rookie Ronyell Whitaker. Despite the constant changes, Barber and the Buccaneers' secondary finished third in the NFL in pass defense, limiting opponents to 169.4 yards passing per contest. In fact, Tampa Bay's secondary has been ranked in the top 10 in that category in seven of the last eight seasons.

Tough Guy: Barber finished with a career-high 111 tackles, marking the most ever tackles in a single season for a cornerback in club history (passing CB Jeris White, 103 in 1978). Barber has played in 96 consecutive games and has started in 71 straight contests, trailing only LB Derrick Brooks (144 consecutive games and 128 consecutive starts). For the season, Barber, who started all 16 games, finished second on the squad with 111 tackles and added nine passes defensed (tied for third on the team), five tackles for losses (first on the team), two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks.


The Bucs defense had recorded a takeaway in 54 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the NFL over the past 20 years, before it failed to record a takeaway against Houston in Game 14. The Tampa Bay defense also registered at least one sack and one takeaway in 50 straight contests before the streak was snapped against Green Bay on November 16.

Consecutive Games with a Takeaway (since 1983)

Philadelphia Eagles1985-9071
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2000-0354
Pittsburgh Steelers1985-8844
New York Giants1985-8738
Miami Dolphins1983-8537
Philadelphia Eagles1993-9537

Consecutive Games with a Sack and a Takeaway (since 1963)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers2000-200350
Baltimore Colts1975-7742
Philadelphia Eagles1986-8840
Dallas Cowboys1981-8436
Los Angeles Rams1967-6933


Known as Tampa Bay's offensive catalyst, two-time Pro Bowl QB Brad Johnson continued his hot hand at the helm of the Buccaneers' ship in 2003. This season, Johnson set numerous team records, including touchdown passes (26), passing yards (3,811), completions (354) and pass attempts (570). His 26 touchdown passes established a new career-high and broke his own team record of 22 set in 2002. Johnson has passed for at least 20 TDs in a season four times: 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2003. He also became the first player in team history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons (2001-03). In addition, his four 300-yard passing games in 2003 ties for the most in a season in team history.

Johnson ranked among the top three passers in the NFL in several categories, ranking first in pass attempts (570), second in completions (354) and tied for third in touchdown passes (26). Amongst the top passers in the NFC as well, Johnson ranked third in the conference in passing yards (3,811), fourth in completion percentage (62.1), fifth in passer rating (81.5) and sixth in touchdown percentage (4.6). Over the past two seasons (2002-03), Johnson threw 48 touchdown passes against only 27 interceptions for a TD/INT ratio of 1.78.

In his last 22 regular season games, Johnson has completed 490-of-782 pass attempts (62.7%) for 5,314 yards, 41 TDs and 22 INTs for a passer rating of 88.4. He has also thrown for over 300 yards five times over that span and thrown at least one TD in all but three of those contests. Johnson currently has a career winning percentage of .611 (58-37), which ranks sixth among active passers (min. 50 games started). Since signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Buccaneers in 2001, he has compiled a 26-19 record (.578) as a starter. With injuries to several key components of the offensive unit, Johnson assumed an even greater role in the offense this season, passing for 69.9% (3,811 yards) of the team's 5,453 total net yards and 26 of the team's 32 offensive TDs.

Johnson also showed the ability to strike quickly with big plays, completing 37 passes of 20 or more yards, 12 passes (eight touchdowns) of more than 30 yards and five passes (four touchdowns) of 68 yards or more. He has also excelled at spreading the wealth, completing passes to 18 different players this season with nine players owning 10 or more receptions. In addition, Johnson passed for at least one touchdown in a team-record 11 consecutive games to start the season. Known as an accurate passer, Johnson has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in eight consecutive seasons (1996-2003) tying QB Joe Montana (1980-87) and QB Steve Young (1991-98) for the longest streak in NFL history.

In the second quarter of the San Francisco game (10/19), Johnson's team-record stretch of 160 consecutive pass attempts without being sacked ended when DE Andre Carter sacked him during Johnson's second pass attempt of the second quarter and 11th of the game. Johnson's record eclipsed Doug Williams' mark of 111 consecutive passes without a sack in 1979. Johnson also set the team record for consecutive completions when he completed 18 in a row over two games (at Philadelphia and vs. Carolina).

Highest Winning Percentage - Active QBs (Minimum: 50 games started)

Kurt Warner3515.700
Jay Fiedler3617.679
Donovan McNabb4321.672
Brett Favre12564.661
Steve McNair6940.633
Brad Johnson5837.611

Quarterbacks with Consecutive Seasons, 60.0% Completion Percentage

Joe Montana8 (1980-87)San Francisco
Steve Young8 (1991-98)San Francisco
Brad Johnson8 (1996-02)Minn., Wash., TB
Troy Aikman6 (1991-96)Dallas
Ken Anderson5 (1980-84)Cincinnati

SAME OLD SIMEON Following a tremendous 2002 season, DE Simeon Rice responded in 2003 to piece together the most prolific two-year period by a pass rusher in Buccaneers history. Earning his third career Pro Bowl selection and second as a Buccaneer, his 2003 season totals included 15.0 sacks – tied for second in the NFL, 62 tackles, two interceptions, a team-high six forced fumbles (one shy of the club record of seven), one fumble recovery and 10 passes defensed (second on team).

In perhaps the greatest pass rushing effort of his career, Rice posted a new career single-game high with 4.0 sacks against Washington in Week 6 while being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. His 4.0 sacks also tied the franchise single-game record set by Marcus Jones in 2000 (10/19 vs. Detroit). Rice finished the contest with seven tackles, 4.0 sacks for 34 yards, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. At Carolina (11/9), Rice brought down Panthers QB Jake Delhomme on successive plays in the fourth quarter for his two sacks. In Week 14 at New Orleans, Rice posted the 27th multi-sack game of his career and 14th as a Buccaneer as he posted three sacks on New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks.

Rice has now recorded 93.0 sacks in his career and 41.5 as a member of the Buccaneers. The 41.5 sacks already rank third on the team's all-time sack list. In addition, his 15.0 sacks in 2003 are the third-most in a single season in Bucs history and the third-best single-season performance in Rice's career.

Most Sacks by Rice in a Single Season * 2000…16.5 * 2002…15.5 * 2003…15.0 * 1996…12.5 * 2001…11.0

Most Sacks in a Single Season in Bucs History

Warren Sapp16.52000
Simeon Rice15.52002
Simeon Rice15.02003
Marcus Jones13.02000
Lee Roy Selmon13.01977

Rice has been the NFL's most dominant pass rusher since late in 2001. Since Tampa Bay's 11th game (12/2) of the 2001 season, Rice has recorded 38.5 sacks in his last 38 regular season games, best in the NFL.

NFL Sack Leaders since December 2, 2001 (Rice's last 38 regular season games)

Simeon RiceTampa Bay38.5
Michael StrahanN.Y. Giants36.0
Jason TaylorMiami33.5
Leonard LittleSt. Louis30.0
Kabeer Gbaja-BiamilaGreen Bay24.5
Adewale OgunleyeMiami24.5
Mike RuckerCarolina24.5

Rice's two-year sack total of 30.5 (15.5 in 2002 and 15.0 in 2003) is the highest two-year total in team history and ranks second in the NFL over the last two seasons. A look at Rice's last two seasons:

*2002-2003 NFL Sack Leaders *

PlayerCurrent TeamSacks
Jason TaylorMiami31.5
Simeon RiceTampa Bay30.5
Michael StrahanN.Y. Giants29.0
Leonard Littlet. Louis24.5
Adewale OgunleyeMiami24.5


With a 4-4 mark, the Bucs finished .500 or better on the road for the fifth straight year and the sixth time in the last seven years. Prior to 1997, the Bucs had just one season with a .500 or better record on the road (1979). Under head coach Jon Gruden over the last two seasons, Tampa Bay owns an impressive 10-6 record away from home during the regular season, tied for third-best in the NFL, and added two wins away from Raymond James Stadium during its Super Bowl run in 2002.

The Buccaneers notched a club-record five straight regular season road victories, dating back to last season, before falling at San Francisco, on October 19. Tampa Bay set the franchise mark with six road wins last season, eclipsing the five road victories by the 1979 and 1997 squads. Tampa Bay also pitched two shutouts away from home last season for the first time in team history. The team owned just one road shutout in the first 26 years of existence, but doubled that output with two in 2002 and added another blanking at Philadelphia in the 2003 season opener. Tampa Bay also captured its first-ever road win in the postseason at Philadelphia in the 2002 NFC Championship Game. The Bucs' 22-point win at Washington and the 21-point margin of victory at Atlanta were both among the top 10 largest margins in team history for a win in a road contest. The Bucs have recorded five of those in the last two seasons (2002-03) under head coach Jon Gruden.

Bucs Road Victories in a Season

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