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Best and worst: game 4


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000

BEST (tie) -- TAMPA BAY 21, L.A. 6, SEPT. 23, 1979; TAMPA BAY 31, MIAMI 21, SEPT. 21, 1997: The '79 Bucs opened 3-0, but against teams that would finish 12-36. Into town strode the Rams, who had won six straight NFC West titles and were on their way to the Super Bowl. Doug Williams threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, but led the Bucs to 21 second-quarter points. The defense did not let Los Angeles cross midfield in the second half. Rams quarterback Pat Haden, who finished 13-of-27, was on-target after the game. "I predict Tampa Bay will win its division. We may well see them in the playoffs." ... Almost two decades later, Tampa Bay opened 3-0, but beating the Dolphins on national TV Sunday night would bring national prominence unknown since 1979. Trent Dilfer played the best game of his Bucs career, finishing 18-of-24 for 248 yards and four touchdowns in front of a record 73,314. He was not sacked and threw no interceptions. Tampa Bay did not punt. Warrick Dunn had 106 receiving yards, including a 58-yard touchdown on third and 29. Reidel Anthony caught his first career touchdown, a 38-yarder. Said coach Tony Dungy: "This was not just another game."

WORST -- ATLANTA 23, TAMPA BAY 20 (OT): Steve Young, who had led the Bucs to their first victory a week earlier, completed 8 of 11 first-half passes for 137 yards and a touchdown as Tampa Bay opened a 20-7 halftime lead. But Atlanta rallied with 300 second-half yards. Mick Luckhurst's partially blocked field goal as time expired tied the score. On the tying drive, defensive ends John Cannon (broken leg) and Ron Holmes (knee) were injured on the same play, David Archer's 15-yard completion to Sylvester Stamps on fourth and 2. "God, I can't wait till we're winning every week," Young said. "Those fans ... they want to be so proud of the Bucs. They're going to get what they want. I guarantee it." Other losses of note: In 1980, Brian Sipe becomes the first to throw for more than 300 yards against Tampa Bay in a 34-27 Browns win. ... In 1984, Lawrence Taylor calls James Wilder the "best back I ever played against in my life" after Wilder totaled 112 yards rushing and 65 receiving. The host Giants won 17-14. ... In 1994, Dilfer plays in a Bucs uniform for the first time in a 30-3 loss at Green Bay. He finishes 5-of-10 for 73 yards.

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