A mystique surrounds the Seahawks' encounters with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the years. If the Seahawks had an “evil twin,” in many ways it would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both were born under the expansion plan by the NFL under Pete Roselle, but two very different teams emerged in their first season. The Buccaneers thrived on killer defense anchored by the Selmon brothers while Jim Zorn and Steve Largent made the Seahawks’ offense come to life.
Before decades of experience, new stadiums and redesigned uniforms, both teams were microcosms or simple representations of their modern selves.
Although the Hawks had a more immediate impact upon the league, the overall success award goes to the Bucs. Between them, Tampa Bay was the first to make the playoffs and achieve a berth in a conference championship (1978), participating in a second conference championship (1999), and, as though three is a charm, the 2002 Bucs were the first to win a conference championship. The Buccaneers reached their pinnacle at Super Bowl XXXVII, defeating the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.
Leading the series 4 to 1, the head-to-head win record belongs to Seattle, beginning with the expansion bowl that took place on October 17, 1976 at the “Big Sombrero.” The NFC infants battled all game to prove which was the better newborn. Living, free spirited offense prevailed over death-doctoring defense. By the time the gun sounded at the end of that game, Seattle savored its very first win, 13 to 10 away from home.
However, the last time Seattle played the Bucs (November 28, 1999), Tampa Bay rained on their 8 and 2 parade in the next-to-last game in the Kingdome, stealing 5 of Kitna’s passes and sending an injured Trent Dilfer to the bench toward a long, roundabout journey home. In the minds of many fans, it was “Bloody Sunday” as it marked the beginning of an uneasy period of inconsistency that has plagued most of the Holmgren era ever since.
Perhaps until this year.
What better revenge could there be than for Seattle to rectify the beginning of their slide while establishing their supremacy in the NFC?
Reputation and respect make fans proud, but precede every one of the Hawks games this season. The Bucs are already champions and the world knows it. Therefore, more than Tampa Bay, Seattle has something to prove in this game.
The brilliance of last week’s win over the New Orleans Saints had to do with Holmgren’s ability to out-coach his protégé. He kept Jim Haslett guessing all the way through and practically took the Saints out of their game plan.
We are looking at similarities in week 2, only this time in a more hostile environment. Raymond James Stadium could very well be one of the hardest places on the road for any team to win a football game and Jon Gruden will over-prepare for Holmgren’s Hawks. Once again, the evil twin, directed by Chucky himself, will make every effort to conquer the free spirited, high-flying brother from the north.
With so many weapons (yes, Mr. Morris is a weapon in addition to Mr. Alexander), Gruden will have to keep guessing also. Gone are those predictable three-and-out scenarios that kept Seattle at bay for the past few years. Koren Robinson has too much pride and ability to allow the “dropsies” to ruin his game. Whether he uses tinted goggles or clear ones, he must live up to his potential against one of the most talented set of cover men in the business.
During Holmgren’s first year, the horrific “Seahawk Slide” began against the Bucs when something special was developing and suddenly died at home in Seattle. Like the expansion bowl of days gone by, a Seahawk rise to success may very well be resurrected with new found dignity on the road at Tampa.
May the Hawks and Bucs become
larger than life representations of their original selves.
Don Christensen writes for Seahawks.NET. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.