Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Preseason Takes Shape

Tampa Bay will kick off the 2000 season with a rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game against Washington

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Warren Sapp and the Buccaneers defense will get another crack at the Redskins to start the 2000 preseason

If the Washington Redskins are looking for revenge, they'll get two chances in 2000. In addition to a regular season matchup at Washington's FedEx Field coming this fall, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also face the 'Skins in the preseason opener in Raymond James Stadium on August 4. That date, like all of the preseason games, is subject to change.

The Redskins are also the last NFL team to visit Raymond James Stadium, having traveled to Tampa last January 15 for what proved to be a thrilling divisional playoff contest. Washington jumped out to a 13-0 lead only to see an inspired comeback give the Buccaneers a 14-13 win and a trip to the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis. Both the Buccaneers and Redskins have been extremely aggressive in the early going of free agency and both are already considered prime contenders for the conference crown.

The date of the regular season Bucs-Redskins rematch will not be known until the NFL releases the schedule this spring, but the preseason slate is now set. NFL teams schedule their own preseasons in conjunction with other teams, with the exception of the Hall of Fame Game and the American Bowl series. Tampa Bay put the finishing touches on its own pre-season schedule at the end of last week with the finalization of the date and time to play Washington.

Tampa Bay's 2000 preseason schedule (subject to change) is as follows:

Friday, August 4……….WASHINGTON……….7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, August 10……….at Miami……….7:00 p.m. EDT Sunday, August 20……….at New England……….4:00 p.m. EDT (Fox) Friday, August 25……….KANSAS CITY……….7:30 p.m. EDT

The 2000 preseason schedule deviates slightly from the team's usual pattern of three Saturday games followed by a Friday finisher in order to avoid baseball conflicts and provide the best attending options for fans. The Bucs' game in the second week of the preseason will be played on Thursday due to a weekend home series scheduled by the Florida Marlins. The preseason opener a week later will be played on Friday evening to make it attractive for Buccaneer fans and leave enough preparation time for the following Thursday.

Three of the Bucs' four preseason opponents in 2000 are repeats from last year's August schedule, as preseason agreements are often constructed to include several years in a row. Last year, the Bucs played at Washington and Kansas City during the preseason and welcomed New England to Raymond James Stadium; this year, those trips are reversed. The trip to Miami takes the place of last year's Cleveland Browns game in Tampa.

Miami is not exactly a novelty on the August schedule, however. The Bucs and Dolphins' long-running preseason series dates back to 1976, Tampa Bay's inaugural NFL season, and has been contested 13 times. Miami is on the plus side of that ledger with a 9-4 mark against the Bucs in the preseason, but Tampa Bay has won three of the last five, dating back to a 29-14 win in Miami on August 20, 1994. That marked the Bucs' only win ever in Miami; the team is 1-3 in the preseason in South Florida and 0-2 in the regular season. The two teams have also played one neutral-site game, with Tampa Bay taking a 24-17 decision in Orlando on 8/25/95.

The Bucs will actually be playing the Chiefs for the third straight preseason, with one game at each team's venue and one at a neutral site. The teams had previously met just one time before in August, with Tampa Bay winning 20-7 in Tampa Stadium on August 23, 1991. However, they kicked off the current series with a 17-13 Kansas City win in Norman, Oklahoma on August 8, 1998, followed by last year's 17-7 Buc win at K.C.'s Arrowhead Stadium.

Though the significance of preseason results is debatable, the Buccaneers might want to keep New England on the schedule as often as possible. Though the Bucs and Patriots have only squared off four times in preseason matches, Tampa Bay has almost always scored at a prolific rate in those games. After a 17-16 loss to New England in 1981, the Bucs have followed with three straight wins, scoring over 40 points each time: a 41-21 win in 1983, a 44-10 drubbing in 1990 and a 45-14 decision last year in Raymond James Stadium. Significant or not, the Bucs' scoring outbursts against New England are curious; Tampa Bay has played 98 games not against the Patriots and have reached 40 points in just three of them.

The Buccaneers' training camp dates have not been finalized, but the camp usually opens roughly two weeks before the first pre-season game. The team's regular-season schedule, and that of the other 30 NFL teams, should be released by the league office in March or April.

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