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Buccaneers best and worst: game 8

By Compiled by LAWRENCE HOLLYFIELD

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


BEST -- TAMPA BAY 27, MINNESOTA 24, NOV. 1, 1998: The Bucs, off to a 3-4 start in the face of high expectations, played host to the sizzling 7-0 Vikings, who had beaten Tampa Bay earlier behind Randy Moss (sound familiar?). But Tampa Bay's offense, which did not score a touchdown the previous week in what was described as its worst showing of the season (how about now?), put together a dominant effort that resulted in a team-record 246 yards rushing. Mike Alstott (128) and Warrick Dunn (115) became Tampa Bay's first pair of backs to break 100 in the same game. The win provided a brief respite for an offense under the gun. "There was a lot of outside talk that we needed a new quarterback, or we needed a change, we needed this, we needed that," Alstott said. "But that comes from our leader, that we're going to stick with what we believe in and how we've done things in the past."

WORST -- ST. LOUIS 31, TAMPA BAY 28, NOV. 8, 1987: The Bucs produced seven Game 8 defeats of more than three touchdowns (average score 38-9), but this three-point loss, which included a potential tying 53-yard field goal that hit the crossbar, was one for the record books. Tampa Bay led 28-3 with 13 minutes to play and the Cardinals were down to fourth down, but the Bucs collapsed like no other team in NFL history. Robert Awalt caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Neil Lomax. Linebacker Niko Noga returned a James Wilder fumble 24 yards for a touchdown. J.T. Smith caught a Lomax pass from 11 yards for another score. Then Smith caught another scoring pass, this from 17 yards, to throttle a Tampa Bay team that had been a heady (for the Bucs) 4-3. "To hell with the playoffs," first-year coach Ray Perkins said. Other than predicting Paul Gruber would start at left tackle for 12 years, that was as right as Perkins got while wearing orange. The Bucs closed the season with seven more losses.

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