1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season
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1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season
1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season
Head coachTony Dungy
General managerRich McKay
OwnerMalcolm Glazer
Home fieldHoulihan's Stadium
Division place2nd NFC Central
Playoff finishWon Wild Card Playoffs (Lions) 20-10
Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Packers) 7-21
Pro Bowlers
AP All-ProsFB Mike Alstott, MLB Hardy Nickerson
Team MVPQB Trent Dilfer

The 1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 22nd season in the National Football League. Having gone 6-10 season the previous season, Tampa Bay finished second in the NFC Central, and secured their first playoff berth since the strike-shortened 1982 season.

The 1997 season was notable for several reasons. The club retired their orange and white "Bucco Bruce" color scheme and logo, replacing it with a new more marketable and intimidating image. The brand new pewter and red uniforms featured a new "skulls and swords" logo, new fonts, and prominent end zone markings. The 1997 season would also be their final season playing in Houlihan's Stadium. Next door, the much-anticipated brand new Raymond James Stadium was under construction. It was also Ronde Barber's first season with the team.

During the regular season, the Buccaneers surprised many experts by starting off with a 5-0 record.[1] By the end of the season, they had amassed a record of 10-6 and went to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. After beating the Detroit Lions 20-10 in the Wild Card Game, they lost to the eventual NFC champions, the Green Bay Packers, 21-7 in the Divisional Playoff Game.

Head coach Tony Dungy was named NFL Coach of the Year.


1997 Draft





Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1997 roster

Player POS G GS Birthdate College
Donnie Abraham DB 16 16 10/08/1973 East Tennessee State
Chidi Ahanotu DE 16 15 10/11/1970 California
Mike Alstott RB 15 15 12/21/1973 Purdue
Reidel Anthony WR 16 13 10/20/1976 Florida
Ronde Barber DB 1 0 4/07/1975 Virginia
Tommy Barnhardt P 6 0 6/11/1963 North Carolina
Greg Bellisari LB 14 0 6/21/1975 Ohio State
Tony Bouie DB 16 1 8/07/1972 Arizona
Derrick Brooks LB 16 16 4/18/1973 Florida State
Horace Copeland WR 13 11 1/02/1971 Miami
Brad Culpepper DT 16 16 5/08/1969 Florida
Eric Curry DE 6 1 2/03/1970 Alabama
John Davis TE 8 2 5/14/1973 Emporia State
Jorge Diaz OG 16 16 11/15/1973 Texas A&M-Kingsville
Trent Dilfer QB 16 16 3/13/1972 Fresno State
Kevin Dogins C 0 0 12/07/1972 Texas A&M-Kingsville
Warrick Dunn RB 16 10 1/05/1975 Florida State
Jerry Ellison RB 16 0 12/20/1971 Tennessee-Chattanooga
Kenneth Gant DB 9 0 4/18/1967 Albany State
Jeff Gooch LB 14 5 10/31/1974 Austin Peay
Paul Gruber OT 16 16 2/24/1965 Wisconsin
Patrick Hape TE 14 3 6/06/1974 Alabama
Jackie Harris TE 12 11 1/04/1968 Northeastern Louisiana
Brice Hunter WR 3 0 4/21/1974 Georgia
Michael Husted K 16 0 6/16/1970 Virginia
Tyoka Jackson DE 12 0 11/22/1971 Penn State
Melvin Johnson DB 16 7 4/15/1972 Kentucky
Marcus Jones DE 7 1 8/15/1973 North Carolina
Andrew Jordan TE 2 0 6/21/1972 Western Carolina
Sean Landeta P 10 0 1/06/1962 Towson
Tyrone Legette DB 16 1 2/15/1970 Nebraska
John Lynch DB 16 16 9/25/1971 Stanford
Jason Maniecki DT 10 0 8/15/1972 Wisconsin
Tony Mayberry C 16 16 12/08/1967 Wake Forest
Frank Middleton OG 15 2 10/25/1974 Arizona
Charles Mincy DB 16 9 12/16/1969 Washington
Dave Moore TE 16 7 11/11/1969 Pitturgh
Hardy Nickerson LB 16 16 9/01/1965 California
Jason Odom OT 16 16 3/31/1974 Florida
Anthony Parker DB 15 14 2/11/1966 Arizona State
Pete Pierson OT 15 0 2/04/1971 Washington
Rufus Porter LB 11 10 5/18/1965 Southern
Jim Pyne Og 15 14 11/23/1961 Virginia Tech
Shelton Quarles LB 16 0 9/11/1971 Vanderbilt
Errict Rhett RB 11 0 12/11/1970 Florida
Reggie Rusk DB 4 0 10/19/1972 Kentucky
Warren Sapp DT 15 15 12/19/1972 Miami
Alshermond Singleton LB 12 0 8/07/1975 Temple
Robb Thomas WR 16 1 3/29/1966 Oregon State
Regan Upshaw DE 15 15 8/12/1975 California
Steve Walsh QB 12 0 12/01/1966 Miami
Steve White DE 15 1 10/25/1973 Tennessee
Karl Williams WR 16 7 4/10/1971 Texas A&M-Kingsville
Jerry Wunsch OT 16 0 1/21/1974 Wisconsin
Floyd Young DB 12 1 11/23/1975 Texas A&M-Kingsville

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result TV Time (ET) TV Announcers Stadium Attendance Record
1 August 31, 1997 San Francisco 49ers* W 13-6 FOX 4:00pm Kevin Harlan & Jerry Glanville Houlihan Stadium
2 September 7, 1997 at Detroit Lions W 24-17 FOX 1:00pm Eric Clemons & Trevor Matich Pontiac Silverdome
3 September 14, 1997 at Minnesota Vikings W 28-14 FOX 1:00pm Kenny Albert & Tim Green Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
4 September 21, 1997 Miami Dolphins W 31-21 TNT 8:00pm Verne Lundquist, Pat Haden & Mark May Houlihan Stadium
5 September 28, 1997 Arizona Cardinals* W 19-18 FOX 1:00pm Kenny Albert & Tim Green Houlihan Stadium
6 October 5, 1997 at Green Bay Packers L 21-16 FOX 1:00pm Pat Summerall & John Madden Lambeau Field
7 October 12, 1997 Detroit Lions* L 27-9 FOX 1:00pm Dick Stockton & Matt Millen Houlihan Stadium
8 Bye
9 October 26, 1997 Minnesota Vikings* L 10-6 FOX 4:00pm Dick Stockton & Matt Millen Houlihan Stadium
10 November 2, 1997 at Indianapolis Colts W 31-28 FOX 1:00pm Kevin Harlan & Jerry Glanville RCA Dome
11 November 9, 1997 at Atlanta Falcons W 31-10 FOX 1:00pm Sam Rosen & Ray Bentley Georgia Dome
12 November 16, 1997 New England Patriots W 27-7 NBC 1:00pm Charlie Jones & Bob Trumpy Houlihan Stadium
13 November 23, 1997 at Chicago Bears L 13-7 FOX 1:00pm Kenny Albert & Tim Green Soldier Field
14 November 30, 1997 at New York Giants W 20-8 FOX 4:00pm Dick Stockton & Matt Millen Giants Stadium
15 December 7, 1997 Green Bay Packers L 17-6 FOX 1:00pm Dick Stockton & Matt Millen Houlihan Stadium
16 December 14, 1997 at New York Jets L 31-0 FOX 1:00pm Dick Stockton & Matt Millen The Meadowlands
17 December 21, 1997 Chicago Bears W 31-15 FOX 1:00pm Kenny Albert & Tim Green Houlihan Stadium
  • = blacked out locally


NFC Central
(2)Green Bay Packers 13 3 0 .813 422 282 W5
(4)Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 6 0 .625 299 263 W1
(5)Detroit Lions 9 7 0 .563 379 306 W2
(6)Minnesota Vikings 9 7 0 .563 354 359 W1
Chicago Bears 4 12 0 .250 263 421 L1

Game summaries

Week 1: San Francisco

The "new-look" Buccaneers opened the season against San Francisco. It was the first game for new 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci, and it was the start of the second season for Tampa Bay's Tony Dungy.

The Bucs defense sacked the 49ers seven times, and knocked both Steve Young and Jerry Rice out of the game. Early in the first quarter, Warren Sapp sacked Steve Young, who suffered a minor concussion. Later in the second quarter, Sapp tackled Rice on a busted reverse play. Rice tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee, sidelining him for 14 weeks.

Trailing 6-3 in the fourth quarter, Trent Dilfer faked a hand-off up the middle to Mike Alstott and rolled out to pass to a wide-open Dave Moore in the endzone. The Buccaneers won 13-6, and the victory was considered a "statement game" for the club, particularly on defense.

Week 2: at Detroit

Rookie Warrick Dunn rushed for 130 yards and one touchdown, as Tampa Bay won 24-17. The Buccaneers defense held Barry Sanders to only 20 yards rushing.

Week 3: at Minnesota

Warrick Dunn rushed for 101 yards (his second-consecutive 100-yard game), including a 52-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay won 28-14.

In the second quarter, Mike Alstott scored one of his most-memorable touchdowns with the club. At the one-yard line, a hand-off to Alstott up the middle saw him hit the pile and appear to be stopped short of the goal line. However, he bounced off the pile, did not have a knee down, escaped to the left, avoided three other tacklers, and powered his way into the endzone.

Week 4: Miami

On Sunday Night Football, Tampa Bay hosted Miami. The Buccaneers jumped out to a 14-0 lead, with Trent Dilfer passing for 248 yards and four touchdowns. The Bucs defense intercepted Dan Marino twice.

With 9:30 left in the game, Tampa Bay led 24-14 facing a 3rd & 28 at their own 42-yard line. Dilfer completed a screen pass to Warrick Dunn, who weaved through and broke away for a 58-yard touchdown, putting the game out-of-reach.

Week 5: Arizona

The Buccaneers offense sputtered, but the defense did enough to keep Tampa Bay in the game. Alshermond Singleton blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown. With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Karl Williams scored a go-ahead 31-yard touchdown on fourth down. With Tampa Bay leading 19-18, Arizona drove to the Tampa Bay 29-yard line in the closing seconds. Cardinals kicker Kevin Butler missed a 47-yard field goal wide right, and the Buccaneers held on to start the season 5-0.

This would be Ronde Barber's first regular season game with the Buccaneers. The 5-0 start matched the franchise best set in 1979.

Week 6: at Green Bay

Green Bay jumped out to a 21-3 lead, but Tampa Bay rallied to make the score 21-16 late in the game. A last-minute drive failed when Trent Dilfer threw incomplete to Warrick Dunn on 4th down at the Packers 48-yard line.

Week 7: Detroit

Barry Sanders rushed for 215 yards, and Scott Mitchell passed for 222 yards as Detroit rolled over Tampa Bay by a score of 27-9. Sanders had rushing touchdowns of 80 yards and 82 yards respectively, the first time in NFL history a single player had two rushes of over 80 yards in a single game.

Week 8: Open date

Tampa Bay had their bye in week 8.

Week 9: Minnesota

The first half was scoreless. Late in the third quarter, Minnesota had a 57-yard punt return which set up the first touchdown of the game. The Vikings held on to win 10-6.

Week 10: at Indianapolis

After a three-game losing streak, Tampa Bay got back to their winning ways. Tied 28-28 with 1:03 to go, Karl Williams returned a punt to the Colts 45-yard line. That set up a game-winning field goal by Michael Husted with 8 seconds remaining in regulation. Tampa Bay won 31-28, and improved to 6-3.

Week 11: at Atlanta

Tampa Bay had 199 yards of rushing, and the special teams recovered two punt fumbles by the Falcons. Tampa Bay won 31-10, and improved to 4-0 in dome stadiums for the season. At 7-3, they were one game behind Green Bay and Minnesota for the lead in the NFC Central.

Week 12: New England

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 27-0 lead by the third quarter, and the Patriots did not even have a first down until the second half. Mike Alstott rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown.

Week 13: at Chicago

Two turnovers by Tampa Bay in the first half allowed the Bears to jump out to a 10-0 lead at halftime. Mike Alstott fumbled on the first play of the game, and Karl Williams muffed a punt at the four-yard line with seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Bears won 13-7.

Week 14: at N.Y. Giants

Tampa Bay guaranteed their first winning season in 15 years, defeating the New York Giants. The game was iced in the fourth quarter when the Giants (trailing 14-8) went for it on a 4th down & 1. John Lynch stuffed Tyrone Wheatley for no gain, and Tampa Bay would go on to win 20-8.

Week 15: Green Bay

Green Bay defeated Tampa Bay 17-6, and the Packers clinched the NFC Central title. The Buccaneers were held without a touchdown for the first time all season, and would need a victory in the last two weeks to secure a wild card spot for the playoffs.

Week 16: at N.Y. Jets

Jets Otis Smith returned two interceptions for touchdowns (45 yards and 51 yards respectively) and Leon Johnson ran for a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown. The Tampa Bay offense, minus an injured Mike Alstott, went 0 for 13 on third down conversions.

Tampa Bay was crushed 31-0. However, when the 4 o'clock games were decided, Tampa Bay mathematically clinched a wild card berth for the playoffs.

Week 17: Chicago

The final regular season game at Tampa Stadium saw Tampa Bay take on division rival Chicago, with playoff seeding on the line. A win by Tampa Bay would clinch the #4 seed in the playoffs, and secure a home game for the wild card round.

Karl Williams scored a dramatic 61-yard punt return touchdown at the end of the first quarter, en route to a 21-3 halftime lead. Tampa Bay padded the lead in the second half, particularly with Warrick Dunn's 119 yards rushing.

Tampa Bay won 31-15, won the final regular season game at Tampa Stadium, and secured a home game against Detroit for the wild card playoffs. In only head coach Tony Dungy's second season, the Buccaneers had a winning record and a return to the postseason.

NFC Wild Card Game: Detroit Lions

The Buccaneers won their first playoff game since 1979, in what turned out to be their final game at Houlihan's Stadium. Tampa Bay built a 20-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Trent Dilfer threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Horace Copeland, running back Mike Alstott had a 31-yard touchdown run, and Michael Husted made two field goals. The Bucs defense limited Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell to just 10 of 25 completions for 78 yards, and running back Barry Sanders to 18 carries for 65 yards. Frank Reich replaced Mitchell after he suffered a concussion late in the third quarter. Detroit then scored 10 points to cut the lead in half midway through the fourth quarter, with Jason Hanson's 33-yard field goal and Tommy Vardell's 1-yard touchdown run. But the comeback was short-lived when, after completing a long pass on third down during the final minutes of the game, Reich accidentally spiked the ball on fourth down, giving the ball to Tampa Bay.

NFC Divisional Playoffs: at Green Bay Packers

Packers running back Dorsey Levens rushed for a team playoff record of 112 yards and a touchdown while also catching 4 passes for 29 yards as the Green Bay defense held Tampa Bay to 90 rushing yards and intercepted 2 passes from Trent Dilfer, who finished the game with only 11 of 36 completions for 200 yards.

Early in the game, Tampa Bay had a chance to score first, but Packers defensive tackle Bob Kuberski blocked Michael Husted's 43-yard field goal attempt. Green Bay then drove for the first touchdown of the game with Brett Favre's 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Chmura. Early in the second quarter, Packers receiver Robert Brooks' 28-yard punt return and 21-yard reception set up a field goal by Ryan Longwell. And later on, defensive back Tyrone Williams intercepted a pass from Dilfer and returned it 14 yards, setting up Longwell's second field goal with six seconds left in the half, making the score 13-0.

Green Bay receiver Antonio Freeman returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but a holding penalty on Darren Sharper eliminated the score and moved the ball all the way back to their own 11-yard line. Green Bay still managed to drive into scoring range, but on the eighth play of the drive, Bucs defensive back Donnie Abraham intercepted a pass from Favre on the Tampa Bay 6-yard line. Dilfer subsequently led the Bucs offense 94 yards in 8 plays to score on fullback Mike Alstott's 6-yard touchdown run, cutting the score to 13-7. But two possessions later, the Packers drove 54 yards and scored with a 2-yard touchdown run by Levens. Then, Favre closed out the scoring by running in the 2-point conversion on a quarterback draw.


Week Date Opponent Result Stadium Attendance
Wild Card December 28, 1997 Detroit Lions W 20-10 Houlihan's Stadium
Divisional January 4, 1998 at Green Bay Packers L 21-7 Lambeau Field


  1. ^ The Buccaneers had totaled more than five wins in only five of their previous fourteen seasons.
  2. ^ 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Guide. pp. 44-46. Archived from the original on 2010-03-15. Retrieved .

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