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Sideline

JOANNE KORTH
Published November 16, 2003

For years, the Bucs and Packers met twice each season as rivals in the black-and-blue division, the former NFC Central. Since realignment in 2002, the teams no longer are in the same division, but the intensity of the rivalry remains.

"There's no question the history of the Green Bay Packers, the presence of Brett Favre, the cheeseheads walking around Dale Mabry Highway make it just a great game for our fans and certainly a unique rivalry," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "I hope they never discontinue it."

Championship teams and star players fuel the matchup.

"You've got some tremendous player, guys who have been part of a Super Bowl team, who have had great success and faced each other year-in and year-out for quite a few years," Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson said. "So, there's kind of a game within a game with these two teams."

RARE COMPANY

The Bucs are one of three teams to rank in the Top 10 in total offense and total defense, joining the Rams and 49ers. Tampa Bay is sixth in both categories, averaging 351.4 yards on offense while allowing 289.2 per game.

BY THE NUMBERS

3 - sacks by Warren Sapp this season.

4 - sacks Sapp needs to become the Bucs' all-time leader at 79.

36 - quarterbacks Sapp has sacked.

SMALL WORLD

Bucs coach Jon Gruden was the Packers wide receivers coach from 1992-94, working on the same staff with then-assistants Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes under head coach Mike Holmgren.

OFF LIMITS

No self-respecting Bucs fan would be caught dead eating cheese today. Yes, it's a big sacrifice, but the Cheeseheads are in town, and you're either going to make a stand or not.

THE LAST WORD

"Over the course of 16 games, you've got to go on a streak, a span of consecutive wins that is going to carry your momentum. It has to be done at some point to make a run for the playoffs."

- Bucs guard Cosey Coleman

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