BUCS IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT:
Tampa Bay will have seven nationally televised games during the 2003 regular season. The Bucs will play a team-record three games on ABC's Monday Night Football.
Tampa Bay will open the regular season on Sept. 8 on Monday Night Football in Philadelphia. The Bucs will then host the Indianapolis Colts (Oct. 6) and New York Giants (Nov. 24) in MNF contests. In addition to those games, the Bucs will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (Nov. 30) for a Sunday Night Football contest and they will host the Falcons (Dec. 20) on a Saturday afternoon game. FOX will also nationally televise Tampa Bay's contest at San Francisco (Oct. 19) and the Bucs' game against the Green Bay Packers (Nov. 16) at Raymond James Stadium.
Eight of Tampa Bay's 16 regular season games are against teams that participated in the playoffs last season: Philadelphia, Atlanta (twice), Indianapolis, San Francisco, Green Bay, the N.Y. Giants and Tennessee. The Bucs' 2003 regular season opponents finished the 2002 regular season with a combined record of 112-95-1.
ON THE ROAD, AGAIN:
The Bucs will open the regular season on the road (at Philadelphia) for the second straight season and the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Tampa Bay is scheduled to play its first three preseason contests away from Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs will play just two home games in the first seven weeks of the 2003 regular season.
The good news? Well, one of those weeks is a bye (Sept. 28), and the Bucs overcame a tough start to its schedule last year when the team played five of its first eight regular season games on the road. The Bucs went 6-2 in that stretch, including 4-1 on the road.
BUCS-PACKERS RIVALRY STILL ALIVE:
Although they're no longer together in the NFC Central Division, the "Battle of the Bays" rivalry is still very much alive.
Green Bay is slated to visit Tampa Bay on Nov. 16. That game will extend the Bucs' streak of playing the Packers to 27 straight years. Tampa Bay will host Green Bay at Raymond James Stadium for fifth consecutive season. The Bucs are undefeated (5-0) against the Packers at Ray-Jay.
WELCOME BACK, TONY:
Tampa Bay will face former head coach Tony Dungy and his new team -- the Indianapolis Colts -- in a Monday Night Football contest on Oct. 6. This contest will mark the first time in team history that the Bucs have faced a former head coach.
COLD WEATHER AN ISSUE?:
The Bucs are 2-0 (at Chicago, at Philadelphia) under head coach Jon Gruden in games played in temperatures below 40 degrees, but in case inquiring minds wanted to know, the Bucs' best chances for a cold-weather contest will come at Jacksonville (Nov. 30) and at Tennessee (Dec. 28).
BUCS SOUND OFF ON 2003 SCHEDULE:
Bucs general manager Rich McKay on Tampa Bay's 2003 schedule:
"This is a well-balanced schedule that should provide great national exposure for our football team. The constant national focus is really nothing new for our team, but is nonetheless very challenging for our club."