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QB Intrigue in Bucs-Ravens Series Could Continue Sunday

On January 28, 2001, the Baltimore Ravens came to Raymond James Stadium (home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – and won the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, rolling over the New York Giants, 34-7. On Sept. 15, 2002, the Buccaneers went to Ravens Stadium (home of the Ravens, you might surmise, and now called M&T Bank Stadium) and got the first victory in their run to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

The Buccaneers and Ravens haven't met often – the only team Tampa Bay has played less frequently in the regular season is the Houston Texans – but they each have some pretty fond memories of the other's venue. There have also been some radically high and low notes for both sides despite how brief the series is. For instance, each team already has a shutout in their head-to-head log; in contrast, the Buccaneers have played the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints a combined 67 times and only two of those games have ended with one team failing to score. (It was the wrong team both times; don't ask for details.)

This series includes the second-longest touchdown of any kind in Buccaneers history, one that launched Derrick Brooks' 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year campaign. It also includes the largest halftime lead in Ravens annals. You can read more about both of those occurrences below.

When the Buccaneers took the first road trip of their 2002 Super Bowl season, to Baltimore in Week Two, they visited the Ravens home just four days after Baltimore legend Johnny Unitas had passed away at the age of 69. The Ravens honored the former Colts quarterback in a pregame ceremony and painted his number 19 on the field where he used to stand. The actual quarterback on that day for Baltimore could hardly have been farther on the other end of the notoriety scale, as Chris Redman was making the first start of his NFL career (the first of just 12).

It has been an interesting series for the quarterbacks, as a matter of fact. Elvis Grbac definitely didn't enjoy what would be the second-to-last start of his career when he faced a swarming Buccaneers defense in 2001, but Steve McNair, the long-time Oiler/Titan was enjoying a late-career renaissance when he led the Ravens to a whitewash of the Buccaneers five years later. Joe Flacco has started the last two games for Baltimore against Tampa Bay and enjoyed himself immensely, but he may be stepping aside for rookie Lamar Jackson in meeting number six.

For the Buccaneers, Brad Johnson started the first two games of the series but mostly let the defense do the work in a pair of wins. Chris Simms, Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon started the next three games of the series for the Buccaneers, and it's not likely that any of them look back as those afternoons particularly fondly. Jameis Winston gets the start this Sunday and if the Ravens do indeed stick with Jackson over Flacco, it will be the introduction of two new young quarterbacks to what has been a short but entertaining head-to-head series.

Here's the all-time series scoreboard:

Tampa Bay: 2

Baltimore: 3

Buccaneers' Highlights:

1. Tampa Bay 25, Baltimore 0, Sept. 15, 2002

The Buccaneers lost their first game of 2002 on a botched punt in the end zone in overtime against the visiting New Orleans Saints. That sent Jon Gruden's first Tampa Bay team to Baltimore with an 0-1 record to face a Ravens team that won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2000 campaign and was in the playoffs again in 2001. Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV – in Tampa, as noted above – on the strength of Ray Lewis and one of the best defenses of all time. This game early in 2002 could be seen as a symbolic passing of the torch, because the '02 Bucs would snatch the Lombardi Trophy based on an all-time great defensive season, and it began in Baltimore. Pitching just the second road shutout in franchise history, the Buccaneers held the Ravens to 173 yards of total offense and Redman to 16 of 38 passing. Tampa Bay's offense was sluggish, too, but Karl Williams ran a punt back for a touchdown and the defense forced a safety to help the Bucs take an 18-0 lead into the fourth quarter. The game wasn't in doubt late in the final period but the shutout was, and that's when Brooks intercepted a pass and returned it 97-yards for a touchdown, the first of five defensive scores he would notch that year. The only longer touchdown in team history was a 98-yard interception return by Shelton Quarles in 2001.

2. Tampa Bay 22, Baltimore 10, Dec. 29, 2001

Baltimore brought a 9-5 record into Tampa in the penultimate weekend of the 2001 season to face an 8-6 Buccaneers team in a crowded NFC playoff field. This would have been the last regular-season weekend but the 9/11 terrorist attacks had caused the league's Week Two games to be postponed until January. The Buccaneers were coming off a dominant win over another playoff contender in New Orleans and were set to play Baltimore on a Saturday night that was the equivalent of Monday Night Football. It was unsurprisingly a defensive showdown, with the teams combining for 470 yards of offense. The Bucs built a 9-7 lead on three Doug Brien field goals, and then the game turned on an interception by Derrick Brooks that he returned 53 yards to the Baltimore one. Brad Johnson sneaked it in two plays later for the key score. Brooks also made a fourth-down stop with two minutes remaining, after which Mike Alstott ran in the insurance touchdown from 32 yards out.

Bonus: Tampa Bay 29, Baltimore COLTS 26 (OT), Sept. 9, 1979

When you only have two wins in an all-time series you have to cheat a little bit to find three highlighted games. Well, you have to cheat a lot, really. Pretty much 100% cheating here. This one is not part of the all-time Bucs-Ravens series history so we won't break it down in great detail, but it was an important trip to Baltimore for a young franchise. This was the first overtime game and the first overtime win in franchise history and it was part of a 5-0 start to the season that propelled the Bucs to their first playoff berth, just four seasons into their existence. So, fond memories of the Charm City, which were rekindled 23 years later (see Highlight #1 above) and have been dormant ever since.

Ravens' Highlights:

1. Baltimore 48, Tampa Bay 17, Oct. 12, 2014

Joe Flacco had the game of his life, non-playoff division, as he tossed a career-high five touchdown passes and peaked with a 149.7 passer rating. The game was never in doubt, as Justin Forsett ran for 52 yards on the game's second play to set up the first of two Flacco TD passes to Torrey Smith in the game's first five minutes. The Ravens scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions and a field goal on the sixth, and it was 38-0 at halftime. That's the best-ever first-half lead mentioned above. Mike Glennon threw touchdown passes to Louis Murphy and Mike Evans in the second half but that obviously wasn't enough.

2. Baltimore 27, Tampa Bay 0, Sept. 10, 2006

The opening game of 2006 pitted a Buccaneers team that was coming off an NFC South championship and a Ravens squad that had limped to a 6-10 finish in 2005. It would quickly become clear that those two teams were headed in opposite directions. Baltimore began the game by chewing nearly 10 minutes off the clock on an 80-yard drive that ended in Jamal Lewis's four-yard touchdown run. The second quarter began with Chris McAllister picking off a Chris Simms pass and returning it 60 yards for a touchdown. Simms was also picked off by Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed, leading to 10 more points. Baltimore's defense, led by Bart Scott's two sacks, held the home team's offense to 142 yards of offense and eight first downs.

3. Baltimore 17, Tampa Bay 10, Nov. 28, 2010

This game wouldn't make the top three in most series, but it's all we've got to work with. It was 3-3 in the second quarter after an Aqib Talib interception set up a Connor Barth field goal, but Flacco then hit tight end Todd Heap on a 65-yard touchdown and followed up with a 10-yard scoring pass to Derrick Mason before halftime. The Buccaneers came into the game having won two in a row to go to 7-3 in a season that Head Coach Raheem Morris had dubbed the "Race to 10," but this loss hurt as both Atlanta and New Orleans won to stay ahead in the NFC South race. The Buccaneers had won several games with second-half rallies in 2010 and were able to pull within seven when Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow on a five-yard touchdown pass with three minutes left. However, Ravens RB Ray Rice was able to fight for two first downs to run out the remainder of the clock.

Bucs' Top Performers Against Ravens:

Among players currently on the roster, here are a few Buccaneers who have fared well against the Ravens.

· DT Gerald McCoy…2 games, 7 tackles, 2.0 sacks for 17 yards, 3 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits

· WR Mike Evans…1 game, 4 catches for 55 yards and 1 touchdown

· CB Brent Grimes…4 games, 20 tackles, 4 passes defensed, 1 interception

Ravens' Top Performers Against Bucs:

· QB Joe Flacco…2 games, 46 of 63 passing (73.0%) for 595 yards, 7 touchdowns and 1 interception, 132.7 passer rating

· LB Terrell Suggs…3 games, 14 tackles, 1.0 sack for 10 yards, 1 pass defensed, 2 tackles for loss, 7 QB hits

· CB Brandon Carr…4 games, 9 tackles, 4 passes defensed, 1 interception for 35 yards, 1 QB hit

Bucs' Game-by-Game Record vs. Ravens:

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Series Notes:

·    Overall Season Series: Ravens lead, 3-2

·    Bucs' Home Record: 1-2

·    Bucs' Road Record: 1-1

·    Current Streak: Lose 3 (2006-14)

·    Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 2 (2001-02)

·    Ravens' Longest Winning Streak: 3 (2006-14)

·    Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 74, Ravens 102

·    Most Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 25, Ravens 0 (2002)

·    Most Points in a Game for Baltimore: Ravens 48, Buccaneers 17 (2014)

·    Most Points, combined: Ravens 48, Buccaneers 17 (2014)

·    Fewest Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Raven 27, Buccaneers 0 (2006)

·    Fewest Points in a Game for Baltimore: Buccaneers 25, Ravens 0 (2002)

·    Fewest Points in a Game, combined: Buccaneers 25, Ravens 0 (2002)

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