The Bucs' only preseason loss the last two years was at Miami in August, 2000
There's no agreed-upon formula for approaching the preseason in the National Football League. Marv Levy's Buffalo Bills were a combined 6-12 during the preseasons that preceded the team's four consecutive Super Bowl seasons (1990-93). The 1998 Minnesota Vikings blasted out of the gates 4-0 during the preseason and never looked back en route to a 15-1 mark when the games counted.
Whether purposely or not, Tony Dungy's Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become extremely successful in the preseason, compiling a combined 7-1 mark over the past two seasons to set the stage for 11-5 and 10-6 campaigns. On Friday, the Bucs announced the four teams that will attempt to derail Tampa Bay's preseason express this August. Head Coach Tony Dungy looks forward to the challenge those teams will present.
"I think it's important that you get off to a good start, that you're playing well and getting things done," he said. "We'll have a good test this year, very similar to last year. I think we'll have a good measuring stick after those four games of where we are. I like having a tough preseason."
The Bucs will open the 2001 preseason with a visit from exhibition archrival Miami on Saturday, August 11. The game will mark the eighth time in the past eight years that the two teams have squared off during the preseason (they did not meet in 1999 but played twice in August of 1996). The Dolphins are responsible for the Bucs' only loss of the past two preseasons, winning a tight 15-13 battle in Pro Player Stadium last August 21.
The following Saturday, the Bucs will jet to Cleveland for an August 18 game against the Browns. It will mark Tampa Bay's first appearance in the new Cleveland Browns Stadium but the second preseason game between these two teams since the Browns re-entered the league in 1999. The Bucs defeated Cleveland in Raymond James Stadium, 30-3, on August 14, 1999.
The Bucs then return home for a Saturday, August 25 game against the New England Patriots, who played host to Tampa Bay during last year's preseason. The Bucs won that game in Foxboro Stadium, 31-21, on August 28. The preseason then concludes with a short hop to Atlanta on Friday, August 31. The Falcons, like the Dolphins, have been on the Bucs' preseason slate 15 times, making them Tampa Bay's most common summer opponents. However, Atlanta hasn't been on the Bucs' preseason schedule since 1997, when an August 12 trip to the Georgia Dome resulted in a 17-12 loss for the visitors.
Times for the four preseason games have yet to be announced and could be affected by network considerations. The four dates are also subject to change. The NFL will announce the full regular-season schedule for each team in the spring.
|Saturday||August 18||at Cleveland||tba|
|Saturday||August 25||NEW ENGLAND||tba|
|Friday||August 31||at Atlanta||tba|