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Bays are pigs no more.

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Packerlifer, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Packerlifer

    Packerlifer Cheesehead

    Sep 4, 2008
    It's only been 6 years since the NFL realigned its divisions but already people have begun to forget that for a quarter century the Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were twice yearly divisional rivals in the old NFC Central.
    The "battle of the Bays" was usually one of the more anticipated games of those NFL weekends; though variously for different reasons. In the early seasons of the rivalry they were derisively called "the Bay of Pigs" because neither team was particularly good.
    But including this Sunday's meeting since the mid '90's Packers-Bucs games have almost always had playoff implications or been between playoff caliber teams.
    The Packers lead the series 29-19-1 but it's been truly a home field advantage rivalry. The Pack is 18-7 against Tampa at Lambeau or Milwaukee but only 11-12-1 in Florida and just 1-5 since '98 at Raymond James Stadium.
    There's been some memorable, classic games and characters associated with these Bay rivals. Most Packers fans will remember the personal feud between Brett Favre and Warren Sapp which delighted audiences with the two jawing at each other on almost every play.
    Of course, Sapp became the most hated Buc when he blindsided Chad Clifton away from the play in that '02 game that nearly ended Clifton's career and even his life. Although it wasn't a penalty, Packers coach Mike Sherman got after Sapp on the way to the lockerrom after that game, a 21-7 Packers' loss, and always regarded it as a cheap shot on Sapp's part.
    The Bucs began as a 1976 expansion team and were put in the NFC Central mostly because there was no other place for them to go. There certainly wasn't any natural geographic rivalry for them with the northern clubs of Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota but that didn't stop them from developing them based on sheer compeititiveness.
    Tampa started off 0-26 and were league laughingstocks, prompting coach John McKay once to answer a question about his team's execution by saying he was in favor of it.
    By their fourth year, however, they pulled off a "worst to first" rise and won the Central and reached the NFC Championship Game, just a step from the Super Bowl, with a great defense led by crushing de LeRoy Selmon and a bruising ground attack featuring Ricky Bell. Their qb was Doug Williams, who would go on in later years to become the first African-American to quarterback a team to a Super Bowl win as a Washington Redskin.
    More often than not Packers-Bucs games in the '70's & '80's were to avoid the division basement. In '86 the Packers "lost" the battle for the first overall pick in the next year's draft by sweeping Tampa. Otherwise, Vinny Testaverde could have been the Packers qb in '87 on and we can speculate endlessly on how that might have changed the history that followed. (For instance, if the Packers had Testaverde in '87 instead of Brent Fullwood, might they not have taken Barry Sanders in '89 instead of Tony Mandarich? But would they have drafted Don Majkowski or traded for Brett Favre?)
    There's a few games from the Tampa Bay rivalry that still stand out in memory. In 1983 the Packers scored an NFL record 49 pts. in the first half in crushing the Bucs 55-14 at Lambeau. But when they played again later in the season down there Green Bay needed a Jan Stenerud fg in ot to escape 12-9 and keep their playoff hopes alive.
    In 1984 the Bucs came to Green Bay and got caught in a roaring blizzard. With the stands half empty due to the severe weather and impassable roads, the Packers outgained the Bucs 512-65 and won 21-0. Tampa's qb at that time was Steve Young.
    In 1980 the Packers rolled up 569 yds. of offense, with qb Lynn Dickey becoming just the second in Packers' history to throw for over 400 yds. in a game, at Tampa. But for all the offense, they played to a 14-14 tie, as the Bucs returned an int. for a td as the difference maker.
    In the second game at Milwaukee, the Bucs clamped down and Green Bay managed only half as many yards, but still held a 4 pt. lead late in the 4th qtr. Then qb Doug Williams hit a long pass to set up a short td run in the final seconds to beat the Pack 20-17 and kill whatever slim playoff chance they had that season.
    Since about 1995, however, the Packers & Bucs have been meeting as playoff contenders. That was the time Green Bay was rising to Super Bowl status with coach Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre, Reggie White, et.al. while Tampa started its rise with the hiring of Tony Dungy as head coach.
    Just about every season since '97 the Packers or the Bucs or both were in the playoffs, even meeting in the divisonal round in '97 at Lambeau with Green Bay winning 21-7.
    Both clubs have won a Super Bowl; the Packers in '96 and the Bucs in '02. And both have it in their mission to get back there.
    They eyed each other last year as possible combatants for the NFC title but the NY Giants spoiled the plans for both clubs in the postseason.
    So now, as 2-1 teams the Bays are ready to rumble again for high stakes.
  2. wizard 87

    wizard 87 Old Enough To Know Better

    Sep 6, 2008
    Very nice read...I can remember when this game was a joke. No one's laughing anymore.
  3. wischeez

    wischeez Cheesehead

    Dec 4, 2004
    Good read. I'm actually old enough to remember a lot of it.

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