Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Long Wait is Over

The Bucs' 2000 season has arrived, not dampened by a heavy New England gloom


The Buccaneers' defense hopes to keep alive its streak of top-three NFL finishes

Game day has arrived in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The sky is overcast and gray as far as the eye can see in every direction, but the sun is shining on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' immediate future.

At least that's what 53 players, 16 coaches and millions of fans believe on the verge of the 2000 season. The first test to that belief arrives today in the form of the New England Patriots, whose 2000 fortunes appear to be a mystery to local and national observers.

The Bucs' formula is no mystery. Tampa Bay hopes to run the ball as effectively as they did in 1998, and figure the additions of Jeff Christy and Randall McDaniel will make that possible. They then hope to play off that strong running game with a surgical passing attack centered on new receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Defensively, all the Bucs need to do is maintain their recent form, which has placed them in the top three for three consecutive seasons. A few players have been subtracted, but if the team can add the kind of turnover frenzy it created in the preseason, the ledger will be more than balanced in Tampa Bay's favor.

Tampa Bay kicks off the most anticipated season in franchise history at 1:00 p.m. today. Buccaneers.com's on-site coverage will begin in earnest at noon, with reports from the Bucs' locker room featuring the thoughts of head coach Tony Dungy. Please visit the GameDay section to follow all the coverage.

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