|2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season|
|Head coach||Tony Dungy|
|General manager||Rich McKay|
|Home field||Raymond James Stadium|
|Division place||3rd NFC Central|
|Playoff finish||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Eagles) 9-31|
|Team MVP||WR Keyshawn Johnson|
The 2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 26th season in the National Football League.
The season began with the team trying to improve on a 10-6 season. Quarterback Shaun King was benched, and Brad Johnson was brought in from free agency. Johnson broke Tampa Bay team records for passing yards (3,406), completions (340), and attempts (540). However, the team stumbled out of the gate, and started the season with a 3-4 record. The team rallied in the second half of the season, however, improving to finish 9-7 and clinched a playoff spot.
|2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft|
|1||14||Kenyatta Walker||Tackle||Florida||from Buffalo|
|4||117||John Howell||Safety||Colorado State|
|Made roster * Made at least one Pro Bowl during career|
|1||September 9, 2001||at Dallas Cowboys||W 10-6||FOX 1:00pm||61,521|
|3||September 30, 2001||at Minnesota Vikings||L 20-16||FOX 1:00pm||64,105|
|4||October 7, 2001||Green Bay Packers||W 14-10||FOX 4:15pm||65,510|
|5||October 14, 2001||at Tennessee Titans||L 31-28 (OT)||FOX 1:00pm||68,798|
|6||October 21, 2001||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 17-10||CBS 1:00pm||65,588|
|7||October 28, 2001||Minnesota Vikings||W 41-14||FOX 1:00pm||65,558|
|8||November 4, 2001||at Green Bay Packers||L 21-20||FOX 1:00pm||59,861|
|9||November 11, 2001||at Detroit Lions||W 20-17||FOX 1:00pm||74,268|
|10||November 18, 2001||Chicago Bears||L 27-24||FOX 4:15pm||65,612|
|11||November 26, 2001||at St. Louis Rams||W 24-17||ABC 9:00pm||66,198|
|12||December 2, 2001||at Cincinnati Bengals||W 16-13 (OT)||FOX 1:00pm||52,135|
|13||December 9, 2001||Detroit Lions||W 15-12||FOX 1:00pm||65,514|
|14||December 16, 2001||at Chicago Bears||L 27-3||FOX 1:00pm||66,944|
|15||December 23, 2001||New Orleans Saints||W 48-21||FOX 1:00pm||65,526|
|16||December 29, 2001||Baltimore Ravens||W 22-10||ABC 9:00pm||65,619|
|17||January 6, 2002||Philadelphia Eagles||L 17-13||ESPN 8:30pm||65,541|
|(2) Chicago Bears||13||3||0||.813||338||203||W4|
|(4) Green Bay Packers||12||4||0||.750||390||266||W3|
|(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9||7||0||.563||324||280||L1|
The Ryan Leaf experiment ended about as fast as it started. Tampa Bay signed the troubled quarterback during the offseason. The Buccaneers were intrigued by his physical talent and planned to develop his abilities more slowly by having him watch and learn. However, Leaf's wrist still had not healed, and he refused to have surgery despite doctors' strong recommendations. After mediocre performances in the Buccaneers' four preseason games, the club asked Leaf to accept a lower salary. He refused, and the club released him just five days before the start of the 2001 season.
Brad Johnson started his first game for the Buccaneers, and led them to a 10-6 victory. Despite holding a poor Cowboys club to only 127 yards, a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Johnson was needed to seal the victory. It was the Bucs' first ever victory in Dallas.
The NFL resumed play in week 3, but Tampa Bay was scheduled for their bye week.
After 21 days, the Buccaneers finally played their second game of the season. Three Martin Gramatica field goals and a Warrick Dunn touchdown run gave the Buccaneers a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper capped off a 96-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:03 remaining, and Minnesota took the victory 20-16.
Tampa Bay finally played their first home game, five weeks into the season. Shelton Quarles intercepted Brett Favre and returned the ball 98 yards for a touchdown, the longest such in franchise history. The Buccaneers intercepted Favre a total of three times, and Mike Alstott clinched the victory with a 39-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Brad Johnson passed for 287 yards and three touchdown passes (including two in the final 6 minutes) and forced overtime. However, the Titans kicked a field goal and won the game on their first possession of overtime.
The Steelers sacked Brad Johnson ten times, and Jerome Bettis rushed for 143 yards, as the Buccaneers fell to 2-3 on the season. After trailing 17-3, Tampa Bay finally got into the endzone with 28 seconds to go, but the result was not as close as the score indicated.
After slumping for several weeks, the Buccaneers rolled over their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Mike Alstott rushed for 129 yards, and three touchdowns, while Brad Johnson threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Tampa Bay looked to break a winless streak against Green Bay at Lambeau Field that dated back to 1989. Brad Johnson connected on two touchdown passes, and Martin Gramatica scored two field goals for a 20-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Buccaneer defense also performed, intercepting Brett Favre twice. With 3:03 to go, however, Allen Rossum scored a game-winning 55-yard punt return touchdown to foil the Buccaneers' chances at victory.
Tampa Bay traveled to the Silverdome for the final time to take on a pitiful 0-9 Lions team. With 4 seconds to go, Martin Gramatica scored a 35-yard field goal to pull out the victory, and avoid the upset. Tampa Bay improved to 4-4.
Tampa Bay trailed 24-16 entering the fourth quarter, but Brad Johnson rallied the Buccaneers to a 3-point deficit. As time expired, Martin Gramatica attempted a 48-yard game-tying field goal to force overtime. The ball hit the upright and fell no good, and Chicago held on for a 27-24 win.
Tampa Bay traveled to St. Louis on Monday night. It was the second rematch of the 1999 NFC Championship, and the latest installment of an increasingly popular rivalry between the Buccaneers and Rams. The game went back and forth, and was tied 17-17 after three quarters. Warrick Dunn scored a 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the winning margin.
Following the short week, Tampa Bay traveled to Cincinnati to take on the less-than-mediocre Cincinnati Bengals. Despite the poor opposition, Tampa Bay's only touchdown came from a blocked punt. Martin Gramatica scored two field goals, and the Buccaneers held a 13-6 lead, With 8 seconds left in regulation, Jon Kitna connected with Corey Dillon for a game-tying 6-yard touchdown pass, and forced overtime.
In the overtime period, Tampa Bay won the toss and received. They drove to the Cincinnati 35-yard line, where they punted. Punter Mark Royals pinned the Bengals at their own 4-yard line. On the first play of the Bengals drive, Dillon fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by John Lynch at the 3-yard line. Without hesitation, Gramatica came on to the field, and kicked a chip-shot 21-yard field goal to win the game.
The Lions came into the game 0-11 and were led by rookie quarterback Mike McMahon. The Lions never managed to reach the endzone, however, Tampa Bay's offense struggled all day and found themselves trailing 12-7. With just over a minute to go, the Buccaneers faced 4th & 8 at the Detroit 28-yard line. Brad Johnson completed a 15-yard pass to Keyshawn Johnson to keep the drive alive. With 45 seconds to go, the Johnson and Johnson duo connected again, this time for a game-winning touchdown pass.
Tampa Bay gave up 27 unanswered points, and was swept by the Bears.
After hitting their low point the previous week, Tampa Bay rebounded during Christmas week with a record-setting performance against the visiting Saints. Aaron Stecker took back the opening kickoff a then-franchise record 86 yards, but failed to make the endzone, continuing the Buccaneers' then-streak of never having a kickoff returned for a touchdown. Though he was tackled, the long return was not for naught, as two plays later, Brad Johnson connected with Karl Williams for a 14-yard touchdown, and a lead the Buccaneers never surrendered.
In the first half, Williams, Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn each scored touchdowns, while Martin Gramatica added three field goals. The Buccaneers took a 30-0 lead into halftime. The scoring continued into the second half, and the Saints finally got onto the board. With 2 minutes remaining in the game, Ronde Barber intercepted Aaron Brooks pass, and returned it 36 yards for a "icing-on-the-cake" touchdown. Adding a little insult to injury, back-up quarterback Shaun King attempted a two-point conversion, and with its success, the Buccaneers tied the franchise record for most points in a game at 48.
The win improved Tampa Bay's record to 8-6, and put them in control of a wild card spot. One win in the final two games (coupled with an Atlanta loss) would send the Buccaneers to the playoffs.
Though it was part of the Monday Night Football schedule, the game was held on a Saturday night due to New Year's Eve. The Tampa Bay defense intercepted Elvis Grbac twice, and held the Ravens to under 100 yards rushing. The victory game Tampa Bay their third consecutive win against a defending Super Bowl champion: (Broncos- XXXIII, Rams- XXXIV, Ravens- XXXV)
Originally this game was to be played back in week 2 and was thought to be a highly anticipated rematch from last season's wild card round. But due to 9/11, it was rescheduled for week 18. With possible playoff implications on the line, the game was moved to Sunday Night Football. Going into the game though, both teams found themselves locked into their respective playoff seeds. Regardless of the outcome of this game, Tampa Bay would be the #6 seed in the NFC, and Philadelphia would be the #3 seed, and they would meet six days later at Veterans Stadium. Therefore, both teams rested many of their starters, and the game was considered largely inconsequential and lost a lot of its luster.
With several players inactive, such as Keyshawn Johnson, Warrick Dunn, Martin Gramatica, and with quarterback Brad Johnson playing only in the first drive, the offense sputtered. Tampa Bay held a 13-3 lead deep into the fourth quarter. With 2:19 to go, Eagles back-up quarterback A. J. Feeley connected with Dameane Douglas for their first touchdown, and narrowed the lead to 13-10. On the ensuing kickoff, Karl "The Truth" Williams fumbled the return at the Tampa Bay 24-yard line, and it was recovered by Philadelphia. Two plays later, Feeley and Douglas took the lead with their second touchdown. Philadelphia managed to score 14 points in 25 seconds, and held on to win the unusual, rather lackadaisical game.
Eagles QB Donovan McNabb threw for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also rushing for 54 yards, as Philadelphia dominated Tampa Bay from start to finish. Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson was intercepted four times, twice by Damon Moore. It was the second consecutive season in which Philadelphia eliminated Tampa Bay from the playoffs during the wild card round, and two days later, Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy was fired.
On the Eagles first drive of the game, Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson intercepted a pass from McNabb and returned it 9 yards to the Eagles 36-yard line, setting up a 36-yard field goal from Martin Gramatica. But McNabb made up for his mistake with a 39-yard run on third down and 5 on Philadelphia's ensuing possession, setting up a field goal for David Akers that tied the game, 3-3. In the second period, McNabb completed 4 of 4 passes for 70 yards on a 73-yard drive, including a 41-yard completion to Todd Pinkston, that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chad Lewis. Tampa responded with a 10-play, 65-yard drive, but once again could not dent the end zone and had to settle for another Gramatica field goal, cutting their deficit to 10-6. Later in the quarter, Eagles punter Sean Landeta pinned the Buccaneers back at their own 5-yard line and Tampa Bay could not get a first down with their next drive. After receiving Mark Royals' short 28-yard punt at the Buccaneers 31-yard line, McNabb threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Duce Staley with 35 seconds left in the half. But Tampa bay managed to respond with Gramatica's third field goal before halftime, set up by a 46-yard reception from Keyshawn Johnson, cutting their deficit to 17-9.
But Tampa Bay was completely dominated in the second half. Moore recorded his first interception from Brad Johnson at the Eagles 38-yard line on the Buccaneers opening drive of the third quarter. Later on, the Eagles drove 60 yards in six plays and scored on a 25-yard touchdown run from rookie Correll Buckhalter. Johnson tried to rally his team back with a pair of drives deep into Eagles territory, but both of them were ended with interceptions. First, defensive back Troy Vincent picked off a pass from Johnson in the end zone with 4:09 left in the third quarter. Then late in the fourth quarter, safety Brian Dawkins intercepted Johnson on Philadelphia's 3-yard line. Following a punt, Moore put the game away by recording his second interception and returning it 59 yards for a touchdown.