Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What to Watch

A new NFL Films highlight package chronicling the Bucs’ 2005 season, as well as another “Making the Squad” preview, get the week started in stimulating fashion

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WR Edell Shepherd was involved in two critical moments of the Bucs' 2005 season, both of which are captured by NFL Films

Monte Kiffin recently postulated, in his own unique style, how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2005 season might have ended if not for one hair-thin moment.

Playing to a heavily partisan crowd, the Bucs' defensive coordinator essentially asserted that one decision – the no-catch call on Edell Shepherd's end zone play at the end of a January 1 playoff game – was the only thing that kept Tampa Bay from capturing its second Super Bowl title in four years.

Kiffin can't really know that, of course, and his hubris was at least partly a product of the atmosphere at the Bucs' FanFest, held amid a jam-packed Raymond James Stadium. But the Buccaneers' 2005 season ended so abruptly, so shockingly when Shepherd's apparent tying catch against the Washington Redskins was overturned, that it's fair to wonder what could have been. And Kiffin can't be blamed for his confidence; that's a trademark of the business.

After all, not many campaigns turn on what is essentially the season's last play. Even when the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII three-and-a-half-years ago, the final game was decided long before the clock ran out. The Seattle Seahawks came up just short of their ultimate goal this past season, but the last 10 plays of Super Bowl XL were part of a mostly irrelevant final drive.

Ah, but for the 2005 Bucs…what might have been. And what could be in 2006.

The talented artists at NFL Films obviously feel the same way.

Looking back at the highlights of the Bucs' 2005 season, and peering ahead to the looming commencement of 2006, NFL Films has created an '05 highlight reel that no Tampa Bay fan will want to miss. In reconstructing the Bucs' dramatic season, the filmmakers ended up focusing on the same moment at the end of the season, in the process leaving that same obvious sentiment with the viewer: What might have been and what could be. As emphasis, the film concludes by calling the Bucs one of the league's most surprising teams in 2005 but claiming that, "In 2006, few would be surprised to see them atop the NFC South once again."

You can watch that exciting new film, and relive the best moments of last season, by clicking on the link above. You might just get pumped for 2006 in the process.

The piece opens, as mentioned, with the final game of 2005, the January 1 Wild Card loss to the visiting Washington Redskins. Making liberal use of the always-welcome Gene Deckerhoff radio clips, the film states that the Bucs' season ended with "two quarters of pure determination," punctuating that claim with a clip of quarterback Chris Simms hurling himself over a tackler into the end zone.

The Bucs' season ended on that late afternoon, obviously, but not before a team picked to finish well down the NFC standings won 11 games and stole the NFC South from the favored Carolina Panthers.

"Two thousand five was a season of discovery," says the narrator of the Bucs' reemergence after two losing seasons, "of unforeseen greatness that defied all odds."

After setting the scene with the playoff game, the film rewinds to the beginning of the season, when the Bucs' raced off to a 4-0 start that included an upset win in Minnesota to open the run and a long-awaited victory in Green Bay. Not surprisingly, this early footage stays close to rookie running back Cadillac Williams, who set several NFL records with his blazing start.

The next point of emphasis in the film is the season-ending injury to quarterback Brian Griese, and Simms' successful development as his replacement. There are several moments from the Bucs' gripping November win over Washington, including Simms' last-minute touchdown pass to Shepherd that proved eerily prophetic of the season's final turning point. Mike Alstott's bold game-winning two-point conversion is included, as well.

The other game featured most prominently in the film is the Bucs' 20-10 victory at Carolina in December. Ronde Barber's record-setting 20th interception (he became the NFL's first 20-sack, 20-INT cornerback) is shown, as are some behind-the-scenes moments in the locker room after the win.

Few Bucs fans could forget these moments, of course, but it never hurts to see them played out again, in NFL Films' dramatic slow-motion capture. Feel like reliving them one more time? Click on the link above.

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Cheerleaders, Too!

Chris Simms, Cadillac Williams, Ronde Barber…they're all fantastic, but they're not the only reason Buccaneer fans love coming out to Raymond James Stadium on fall Sundays. The Bucs just happen to field the league's most alluring cheerleading squad, too.

All this month, the NFL Network is running a series of hour-long shows featuring the 2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders. "Making the Squad" focuses on the three-week process that pared 350 applicants down to the final 28 members and a handful of special events that followed.

The second installment of the Bucs' "Making the Squad" series will air this Monday, June 12, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Here's the good news: We have a sneak preview of that show, too! Click on the "Making the Squad" preview link in Buccaneers Broadcast Network box on the home page to take a look.

Last Monday, the Bucs' 2006 squad gathered at Cherry's in South Tampa to watch the debut episode of the show. It was a triumphant moment for the new crew, as the show underscored how difficult it was to earn a spot on this prestigious team. Several rather intriguing storylines developed, as well, and the second episode of "Making the Squad" is sure to add some closure. Most notably, Monday's episode will show the final squad-making decisions as the tryouts come to an end.

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