Pictures of some of the Jets' top players.
The last game ever coached by Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor member John McKay was a 41-21 win over the New York Jets on Dec. 16, 1984. No Buccaneer head coach since has tasted victory against the Jets.
At the time, those 41 points were a single-game franchise record, but it was actually the Jets final touchdown in that lopsided decision that became a point of contention between the two teams. With 1:26 left in the game, Tampa Bay running back James Wilder had scored on a four-yard run, which notably gave him 2,229 yards from scrimmage on the season. Both Wilder and the Rams' Eric Dickerson were chasing O.J. Simpson's 1975 NFL record of 2,243 yards but it appeared as if Wilder wouldn't get another chance to break it. McKay tried to create another opportunity with an onside kick, but it failed.
The Jets ended up with the ball at Tampa Bay's 35 and quickly got it down to the two with about a minute to play. The Bucs elected not to impede Johnny Hector's progress to the end zone on a second-and-goal carry, and the Jets running back scored with 54 seconds to play. The result, after the Jets also failed on an onside attempt, was one more set of downs for the Buccaneers and another chance for Wilder to catch Simpson. As it turned out, Wilder got off three carries in those 54 seconds but they amounted to a net of zero yards.
Dickerson would go on to break Simpson's record by one yard, though his mark only stood for one year and is now just 15th all-time. What lasted almost as long as Dickerson's perch at the top was the Jets' irritation over the Bucs' end-game strategy in that blowout. They were not pleased. New York got its revenge the very next year, blasting the Buccaneers 62-28, still the most points any opponent has ever scored against Tampa Bay.
Though the enmity over that 1984 game has surely faded by now, more than three decades later, the Jets have never stopped making the Buccaneers pay. That 1984 victory is the only one for Tampa Bay in 11 tries against the Jets, and New York has won the last eight in a row. The Jets' 10 wins include four games that occurred in seasons in which the Buccaneers would end up in the playoffs (1982, 1997, 2000 and 2005), several of them at least mildly surprising at the time.
While there have been a couple blowouts in the all-time Bucs-Jets series – the two above included – Tampa Bay has also come very close to stopping New York's winning streak five times. The matchups in 1990, 1991, 2000, 2005 and 2013 were all decided by four points or less, and the Jets took the most recent one by one point on a 48-yard Nick Folk field goal as time expired after a critical and questionable penalty on Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David. More on that below.
The Bucs and Jets first met in 1976 at Shea Stadium in New York, the first trip ever to the Big Apple for the expansion squad from Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers didn't beat anybody in their first season but they had particular trouble in New York, falling 34-0 while going through three quarterbacks (Steve Spurrier, Terry Hanratty and Parnell Dickson) and turning the ball over six times. A 60-yard punt return by Lou Piccone didn't help.
It would be six years before the Bucs and Jets would reunite, again in New York. This time Tampa Bay was on its way to the playoffs for the third time in a four-year span and would win five of its last six in a strike-shortened 1982 season. The one that got away was a 32-17 loss to New York in which Wilder first introduced himself with 11 catches for 116 yards and two total touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers couldn't do much else on offense that afternoon and the Jets' defense picked off Doug Williams twice. Freeman McNeil countered Wilder's two scores with two of his own and the Jets ran away with it in the second half.
The aforementioned 1984 game was the next in the series, and it also happened to be the last one for future Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, though that wasn't yet known at the time. Selmon would retire after the Pro Bowl following that season due to a back injury. He would cap his career with two of the six sacks with which the Bucs' defense punished Jets QB Ken O'Brien. Buccaneers starter Steve DeBerg was also sacked five times, two by the colorful Mark Gastineau, but he managed to get off three touchdown passes, two of them to Jerry Bell.
The Jets had to wait until almost the next Thanksgiving for their revenge game in 1985, but they didn't hold anything back when the time came. Tampa Bay actually scored the game's first 14 points on touchdowns by Kevin House and Calvin Magee, but then began the Jets' onslaught. New York scored on each of its next six drives and would end up with a whopping 581 yards of offense. O'Brien tossed five touchdown passes, three of them to Mickey Shuler, and the Jets even went for it on fourth down from the Buccaneers' three-yard line with a minute left in order to more thoroughly drive up the score.
The Jets logged two more wins in 1990 and 1991, first in Tampa and then in New York, by nearly identical scores. The 16-14 decision in 1990 wasn't quite as close as the score looks because Vinny Testaverde threw a touchdown pass to Bruce Hill with three minutes left and the Jets were able to run out the clock from there. That was the final game of 1990, and then the Bucs and Jets got right back together for the opener in 1991. The rematch was tight the whole way, tied at 13-13 until Pat Leahy hit a 40-yard field goal with a minute left. The Buccaneers never got a chance to come back in the final minute because running back Reggie Cobb fumbled the ensuing kickoff away. Tampa Bay had tied it in the fourth quarter on Testaverde's 65-yard touchdown bomb to Lawrence Dawsey.
Another long drought in the series followed until the Bucs and Jets met again near the end of 1997. By this point, Tampa Bay had finally pulled itself out of a decade-and-half swoon and were on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 1982. They had one little hiccup first, though, losing 31-0 to the Jets in New York in Week 16. That was the most points Tampa Bay gave up all season, but it wasn't really the defense's fault. Cornerback Otis Smith recorded not one but two pick-sixes off Trent Dilfer in the second quarter and Leon Johnson added a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half. Tampa Bay only gave up 234 yards of offense but only managed 111 yards of its own and Dilfer was eventually pulled in favor of Steve Walsh.
The Bucs went to the playoffs again in 2000, but after a 3-0 start to the season were matched up against the 3-0 Jets. Tampa Bay looked to be well on its way to 4-0 after taking a 17-6 lead all the way down to the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. The final two minutes, however, went horribly wrong in nearly every possible way. First, Testaverde, now quarterbacking for the Jets, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Martin and succeeded on the ensuing two-point try. The Bucs tried to run out the clock with bruising back Mike Alstott but Alstott fumbled on his second carry and the Jets recovered at the Bucs' 24. Two plays later, Testaverde handed off to Martin, who had quietly removed the glove from his right hand. If the Bucs had seen that clue, they might have anticipated that Martin would pull up and throw a halfback pass to Wayne Chrebet in the end zone. Now down by four, the Bucs had a minute left to rally but John Abraham sacked Shaun King on the next play, forcing another fumble that ended the game.
Matt Bryant hit four field goals when the Bucs went back to New York in 2005, but Martin countered with two touchdowns and that accounted for all the scoring in a 14-12 Jets victory. Brian Griese threw 42 times but never found the end zone. It was another offensively deficient game, with Tampa Bay gaining 285 yards to the Jets' 212, and the Bucs even won the turnover battle, 3-1. The last of those was a Ronde Barber fourth-quarter interception off Testaverde that led to a drive deep into Jets territory. It fizzled at the end, however, leading Bryant's last field goal and the Bucs only had a minute left when they got the ball back a final time.
As in 2000, that loss to the Jets was the first of the season for Tampa Bay, which started out 4-0 and eventually won the NFC South. However, the Bucs were bottoming out in 2009 in Raheem Morris's first year at the helm, and a December loss to the Jets was the team's 12th in its first 13 games. The Jets defense treated rookie quarterback Josh Freeman rudely, holding him to 14-of-33 passing for 93 yards and picking him off twice in a 26-3 win. The Buccaneers managed just 124 yards of offense and gave up two touchdown runs to former Buc Thomas Jones.
And that brings us back to the 2013 meeting and David's penalty. Once again this was the Bucs' first loss of the season, but this time it came in Week One. Despite an early safety on a Freeman fumble, the Bucs pulled out to a 14-5 lead on a touchdown catch by Mike Williams and a five-yard scoring run by Doug Martin. Former Buc Kellen Winslow caught a touchdown pass for the Jets just before halftime and New York took a 15-14 lead with five minutes to go on a 30-yard Folk field goal. Freeman had the answer, hitting Vincent Jackson on a 37-yard pass to set up Rian Lindell's go-ahead field goal with 34 seconds to play. The Jets were out of timeouts but Geno Smith hit Winslow again for 25 yards and then spiked it to stop the clock with 15 seconds to play. On the next snap, Smith scrambled for 10 yards to the Bucs' 45, which would have left the Jets deciding between a 63-yard prayer of a field goal or a Hail Mary. However, David was flagged for a late hit on Smith going out of bounds, moving the ball to well within Folk's range. Folk hit from 48 with seconds left for the one-point Jets win.
Bucs' Game-by-Game Record vs. N.Y. Jets:
|1976||L, 34-0||New York|
|1982||L, 32-17||New York|
|1985||L, 62-28||New York|
|1991||L, 16-13||New York|
|1997||L, 31-0||New York|
|2005||L, 14-12||New York|
|2013||L, 18-17||New York|
- Overall Season Series: New York leads, 10-1
- Bucs' Home Record: 1-3
- Bucs' Road Record: 0-7
- Current Streak: Lose 8 (1985-2013)
- Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 1 (1984)
- Jets' Longest Winning Streak: 8 (1985-2013)
- Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 162, Jets 291
- Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 41-21 (1984)
- Most Points in a Game, Jets: Jets 62-28 (1985)
- Most Points, both teams: 90…Jets 62-28 (1985)
- Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Jets 34-0 (1976), Jets 31-0 (1997)
- Fewest Points in a Game, Jets: Jets 14-12 (2005)
- Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: 26…Jets 14-12 (2005)