© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2002
DEC. 28, 1997: In Dungy's second season, the Bucs made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1982 and beat Detroit 20-10 in the NFC wild-card game before 73,361 at Raymond James Stadium.
NOV. 7, 1999: The Bucs were 3-4 entering this game at New Orleans. Their 31-16 victory was the first of six consecutive and signaled the start of a run toward the NFC Championship Game.
DEC. 18, 2000: Warrick Dunn scores with 48 seconds left as the Bucs rallied for a 38-35 win against the Rams on Monday Night Football. Tampa Bay not only clinched consecutive playoff berths for the first time in franchise history, but Dungy became the team's winningest coach with his 45th victory.
JAN. 2, 2000: The Bucs beat Chicago 20-6 at Soldier Field for their first NFC Central title since 1981.
JAN. 15, 2000: Trailing 13-0 against the Redskins in the second half, the Bucs rallied to beat Washington 14-13 in the NFC playoffs before 65,835 at Raymond James Stadium.
JAN. 23, 2000: A punchless offense and a controversial replay ruling on Bert Emanuel's apparent catch on the final drive doomed the Bucs' run at the Super Bowl. The Rams beat the Bucs 11-6 to advance while Tampa Bay went back to a revolving door of offensive coordinators.
FEB. 22, 2000: The Bucs opt not to sign free agent Hardy Nickerson for financial reasons. Former defensive end Chidi Ahanotu later said losing Nickerson created a void of leadership in the locker room. "Hardy was the heart and soul of the defense," Ahanotu said. "He was the guy everyone in the locker room looked up to, everyone respected."
DEC. 24, 2000: Ryan Longwell's field goal in overtime gave Green Bay a 17-14 victory against the Bucs at Lambeau Field. Tampa Bay had scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to tie the score, but Martin Gramatica missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt with nine seconds remaining that would have won the game. The loss cost the Bucs a first-round bye.
DEC. 31, 2000: Be it the residual effects of losing in Green Bay the week before or that darned 40-degree curse, the Bucs looked terrible in a 21-3 loss to Philadelphia in the NFC wild-card game at Veterans Stadium. The Eagles held Tampa Bay to 199 yards total offense.
SEPT. 30, 2001: After struggling to beat the Cowboys on Sept. 9, the first sign that all might not be well this season came in a 20-16 loss to the hapless Vikings on Sept. 30 at the Metrodome.