No Laughing Matter

January 9 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense still remembers Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb laughing at them as last year's playoff contest and the Pewter Pirates' season came to an end. The Bucs were downed by the Eagles in convincing fashion, 21-3, and while most Bucs players feel McNabb's laughter was warranted, Tampa Bay is looking forward to an opportunity to avenge last year's playoff loss this Saturday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers players still feel the sting from last year's playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. There are plenty of reasons why Tampa Bay's 21-3 loss to Philadelphia still hurts, but perhaps the one that makes their wound sting more than any other is the fact that the Eagles embarrassed the Bucs and didn't show much respect in doing so.

"They were laughing," said Bucs Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks. "They weren't just stating the obvious, they were having fun. But if I were playing Philly against that (the Bucs) defense, I would have been laughing too because we didn't show up to play. They flat out beat us."

One player the Tampa Bay players remember laughing at them more than any other was Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, who completed 24-of-33 passes for 161 yards and threw two touchdown passes in last year's playoff game. McNabb also rushed for 32 yards on eight carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run. McNabb and Co. gained 277 yards in total offense, converted 9-of-18 third downs and produced 20 first downs on that chilly Sunday at Veterans Stadium on Dec. 31, 2000.

While Bucs' players acknowledge the possibility that more than the Eagles players could have been laughing at Tampa Bay's disappointing performance in last year's playoff game, the Pewter Pirates relish the opportunity to make up for it with a win on Saturday.

They had a right to (laugh)," said Bucs Pro Bowl SS John Lynch. "They took it to us pretty good and they were advancing in the playoffs, so I think what you do with something like that is let it sit in your mind and in your gut, and just let it fester. We'll use that as we choose to, which I think will be motivation. It's fresh in our mind and we have an opportunity to do something about it."

The Buccaneers feel this year's circumstances are much different than the one the team was coming off of after their 17-14 overtime loss in the regular season finale to the Green Bay Packers last year. A win over the Packers would have given the Bucs the NFC Central Division championship, a week off and a home playoff game. But when K Martin Gramatica missed a 40-yard game-winning field goal with no time remaining, the Buccaneers' mindset sank with their ship, and they couldn't recover in time for their game at Philadelphia.

"A lot has been said about how we were so deflated from the loss at Green Bay, and I think that did have a definite effect on us," said Bucs DE Steve White. "Even more so, just from a physical standpoint – that was a very physical game with Green Bay up there last year. We had a couple of guys get hurt, Marcus (Jones) got hurt, (Derrick) Brooks was a little banged up. This year, we're going into this game pretty much healthy and everybody's raring to go. It's totally different. We're up, we're ready to go and we think the future's very bright for this team this year."

While winning in Philadelphia will be a very difficult task, Tampa Bay hopes to have the last laugh this time around.

"We don't want to be laughed at on the football field by anybody," said Brooks. "But you respect them (the Eagles). They won the football game. The best thing about it is that we get to do something about it this year."

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