If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers progress as expected over the next few seasons, 2010 will be remembered as the year that started it all.
But no matter what happens, the 2010 campaign will be difficult to forget, if only for the many dents it made in the franchise's all-time record books.
To be sure, a handful of team and individual records are broken or at least seriously challenged every year. Even in the three-win campaign that was 2009, the franchise saw the greatest pass-catching season ever by a Buccaneer tight end (Kellen Winslow, 77 grabs) as well as the team's best-ever full-season kickoff return average (26.3).
In 2010, however, the Bucs didn't take a few pot shots at their record books; it was an all-out assault. Thanks to the exploits of such young Buccaneers as Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, LeGarrette Blount – not to mention an "old hand" like Ronde Barber – those pages had a lot of red ink by the end of the season.
Not every new entry in the record books was an outright record. As an example, Freeman's 95.9 passer rating is actually the second-best single-season mark in team history; however, it was the best ever by a quarterback who started every game, so it was certainly worth mentioning. There will be more about that and other Freeman accomplishments below as we run down a long list of record-book achievements in 2010.
Let's go player by player, then discuss team records at the bottom.
- 25 touchdown passes (season)…second-most in team history
- 5 touchdown passes (game)…tied for most in team history
- 13 consecutive games with a touchdown pass…longest streak in team history
- 95.9 passer rating (season)…second-best in team history
- 1.27% interception percentage (season)…second-best in team history
- 3,451 passing yards (season)…fourth-most in team history
- 3,815 combined passing and rushing yards (season)…second-most in team history
- 291 completions (season)…fourth-most in team history
- 365 rushing yards (season)…third-most in team history for a quarterback
Obviously, Freeman had one of the better seasons for a quarterback in franchise history, in just his second season and his first as full-time starter. In fact, he joined Brad Johnson (2002) as the only passers in team history to combined at least 3,000 yards and 20 TD passes with fewer than 10 interception in a single campaign.
Freeman obviously has many seasons left to take over the Bucs' record books, but his outstanding 2010 campaign netted just one overall record – the consecutive-games touchdown mark. He put one in the end zone in each of the last 13 games of the season, so he'll actually have a chance to extend that record when the 2011 season begins.
Most of the other top spots still belong to Johnson's 2003, such as passing yards (3,811), touchdown passes (26) and completions (354). Jeff Garcia's 1.22% interception percentage in 2007 is still the record, though it was achieved in 31% fewer passes overall. Similarly, Brian Griese's 97.5 passer rating in 2004 is still the mark to beat, though it was achieved in 10 starts, not 16. By the way, the previous best passer rating by a Buccaneer quarterback who started all 16 games was 82.8 by Trent Dilfer in 1997.
Freeman did tie another record, the single-game TD mark, with his five scoring tosses against Seattle in Week 16. That standard was originally set by Steve DeBerg on opening day in 1987 (against Atlanta) and then matched by Johnson against Minnesota during the 2002 Super Bowl season.
As noted in the final entry on the list above, Freeman was even outstanding with his feet in 2010. His 365 rushing yards nearly matched Doug Williams' 370 in 1980 and fell just 60 shy of Steve Young's team record of 425 in 1986. Added to his passing yards, Freeman ended up with 3,815 combined by air and ground, and that was second only to Johnson's 3,844 in 2003, all but 23 of which was passing yards.
- 11 touchdown receptions (season)…most in team history
- 11 total touchdowns (season)…most by a rookie in team history
That's two records for one statistic (three if you count touchdown receptions by a rookie), but they do signify two different assaults on the record book.
On one hand, you have Williams as the most prolific scoring receiver in team history, among all players. He broke the record memorably set by Joey Galloway in 2005, and Galloway's 10 that season snapped a record (nine) that had stood since 1981. Freeman's passer rating in the 90s was superb, but Williams' 11-TD season was, in a way, rarer and more unexpected. He did it by scoring in nine of the Bucs' 16 games, meaning he was established as a top scoring threat early in the season but was able to remain just that even as opposing defenses caught on.
Obviously, Williams' 11 scoring receptions created a new Buccaneer rookie record, too. However, as noted above, that mark actually stands as the most touchdowns of any kind by a rookie, and it wasn't particularly close. RB Lars Tate previously set the record at eight more than two decades ago, in 1988. Overall, those 11 touchdowns tied for the second-most in team history in a single season, matching Mike Alstott (2001) and Errict Rhett (1995) and trailing only James Wilder's 13 in 1984.
- 1,007 rushing yards (season)…third-most by a rookie in team history
- 164 rushing yards (game)…seventh-most in team history
- 5.01 yards per rush (season)…best in team history
- 4 100-yard rushing games (season)…tied for sixth-most in team history
- 142 rushing yards, one half (game)…second-most in team history
Blount was not the first rookie running back to crack 1,000 yards in Buccaneer history; Errict Rhett did so in 1994 and Cadillac Williams followed suit in 2005. Williams' 1,178 yards in '05 remains the team record in that category. Blount did almost all of his damage starting in Week Seven after playing only sparingly in the first five games, but there is even precedent for that in Buc history. Rhett's 1,011 yards in '94 came largely in the final seven games of the season; he had just 304 in the first nine outings before exploding with four 100-yard games over the next five weeks.
Of course, as noted previously on Buccaneers.com, Blount is just the second undrafted rookie in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards, joining Dominic Rhodes of Indianapolis in 2001. By contrast, Williams was the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft and Rhett went near the beginning of the second round in 1994.
Perhaps the better measure of how amazing Blount's impact was in 2010 is the third entry above: 5.01 yards per carry. That mark absolutely demolished Wilder's previous record of 4.60 in 1987, and Wilder had roughly half of the carries Blount had this past season (106 to 201). In contrast, Rhett needed 83 more carries in 1994 to get four more yards than Blount did in 2010.
Blount's high-water mark of 164 yards against Seattle in Week 16, and even though that's the seventh-best single-game total in team history it's not a rookie record. Rhett punctuated his second-half run in 1994 with a 192-yard outing at Washington that at the time was the second-highest single-game rushing output in team history. The record remains 219 by Wilder against Minnesota in 1983, and Warrick Dunn subsequently put up the second-best total with 210 against Dallas in 2000. Blount's total against Seattle was the highest by any Buc since that high-water mark by Dunn. He got 142 of those 164 yards after halftime; the only half of rushing that was better in team history was Wilder's 179 against the Vikings in that same 219-yard effort.
- 40 interceptions (career)…most in team history
- 26.0 sacks (career)…eighth most in team history
- 209 games played (career)…second-most in team history
- 200 games started (career)…second-most in team history
- 1,260 tackles (career)…second-most in team history
As you can see, Barber's records all have to do with his full body of NFL work, which began back in 1997. He added to each of the categories above in 2010, further cementing his place as one of the most accomplished and important players in Buccaneer history.
Truth be told, Barber already held his current spot on all of the lists above; in each case he either padded his lead (interceptions) or closed the gap between himself and the team's record-holder. The above list is worth noting, anyway, because along the way Barber reached several significant milestones.
For instance, his three interceptions and one sack in 2010 led to combined career totals of 40 and 26, respectively. That's important because it made Barber the first player in NFL history to record at least 40 picks AND at least 25 interceptions. That may be the lead note when Barber's Hall of Fame credentials are discussed later this decade.
In terms of games played and started, Barber began the season in second place in both categories in franchise history and ended it in the same spot. In both cases, former linebacker Derrick Brooks holds the record, with 224 games and 221 starts. By improving his totals to 209 games played and an even 200 starts, Barber joined Brooks as the only players in franchise annals to reach 200 in either category.
Miscellaneous Individual Marks
- Connor Barth, 100% extra point percentage (season)…tied for best in team history
- Connor Barth, 82.1% field goal percentage (season)…seventh-best in team history
- Micheal Spurlock, 1,129 kickoff return yards (season)…second-most in team history
- Micheal Spurlock, 25.7 yards per kickoff return (season)…eighth-best in team history
- Aqib Talib, six interceptions (season)…tied for eighth-most in team history
Barth obviously had a nice season in his first full year as the Buccaneers' placekicker. He hit on all 36 of his extra point attempts and 23 of 28 field goal tries. Even though that mark of 82.1% is seventh on the list, it was remarkably close to setting a new record. Steve Christie still holds the mark he set at 85.2% in 1990, during which he made 23 of 27 attempts. Barth's totals in 2010 were nearly identical, with just one extra miss.
Spurlock had kickoff returns of 89 and 79 yards during the 2010 season, the former for a touchdown. Those were the fourth and seventh longest kickoff runbacks in team history and they helped him put together one of the better season in that category in Buc annals. His yardage total was second only to Bobby Joe Edmond's 1,147 in 1995,
Talib got to six interceptions in just 11 games played; had he not lost the last month of the season to a hip injury he sustained in game 12 he very well may have moved higher on the list. As it was, Talib's six picks were the most by any Buccaneer since Brian Kelly had eight in 2002.
- 341 points scored (season)…fourth-most in team history
- 39 touchdowns (season)…third-most in team history
- 26 passing touchdowns (season)…second-most in team history
- 5,362 total yards (season)…third-most in team history
- 5.61 yards per play (season)…best in team history
- 42.2% third-down percentage (season)…second-best in team history
- 4.64 yards per rush (season)…best in team history
- 8.00 yards per rush (game)…third-best in team history
- 96.2 passer rating (season)…best in team history
- 6 interceptions thrown (season)…best in team history
- 24.3 yards per kickoff return (season)…third-best in team history
- 98-yard touchdown drive (game)…tied for longest in team history
- 94-yard field goal drive (game)…longest in team history
As is usually the case, the list of team records broken or challenged closely resembles the individual marks that were set. For instance, Blount's team-record 5.01 yards per rush was the main reason the Buccaneers as a whole averaged 4.64 per tote, their best ever. That plus Josh Freeman's penchant for big plays in the passing game led to a mark of 5.61 yards per play overall, the best the Bucs have ever done. In terms of a single game, the 208 rushing yards Tampa Bay put up on just 26 carries against Seattle led to that 8.00 yards per tote, the team's best mark since 2003, when it had 8.56 yards per rush against Green Bay (18-154). The record is 9.00 (16-144) against Detroit in 1995.
Clearly, almost all of the marks above were achieved on offense, and such entries as passer rating, interceptions thrown and passing touchdowns were almost totally the work of Freeman. The last two entries above are rather interesting and could be classified in the same way – in one season, the Buccaneers had both their longest field goal drive and their longest touchdown drive (tied).
Those drives needed some third-down conversions to stay alive, and the Bucs were particularly adept at that in 2010. In fact, by converting 42.2% of their third downs on offense, the team did better in that category than it had in almost three decades. Overall, that rate ranks second in team history to the 42.9% accomplished by the 1984 team.