|1998 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season|
|Head coach||Tony Dungy|
|General manager||Rich McKay|
|Home field||Raymond James Stadium|
|Division place||3rd NFC Central|
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
|Team MVP||LB Derrick Brooks|
The 1998 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 23rd season in the National Football League and their first season in Raymond James Stadium.
Following their breakthrough 1997 season, the Bucs finished 8–8 and missed the postseason; nonetheless they were the only team to beat the 15–1 Minnesota Vikings during the regular season. In Week 17, they recorded the biggest road win in tfranchise history with a 35–0 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a record that stood until the 2020 team defeated the Detroit Lions 47–7 in Detroit.
Main article: 1998 NFL draft
|1998 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft|
|2||34||Jacquez Green||Wide Receiver||Florida|
|4||104||Todd Washington||Center||Virginia Tech|
|6||175||James Cannida||Defensive tackle||Nevada|
|6||184||Shevin Smith||Safety||Florida State|
|7||212||Chance McCarty||Defensive end||TCU|
|Made roster * Made at least one Pro Bowl during career|
Special teams coaches
Strength and conditioning
|HOF||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 30–6||1–0||Fawcett Stadium|
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||L 13–17||1–1||Oklahoma Memorial Stadium|
|2||at Miami Dolphins||L 13–14||1–2||Pro Player Stadium|
|3||at Oakland Raiders||W 41–7||2–2||Network Associates Coliseum|
|4||at New Orleans Saints||L 6–10||2–3||Louisiana Superdome|
|1||September 6||at Minnesota Vikings||L 7–31||0–1||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||62,538||Recap|
|2||September 13||at Green Bay Packers||L 15–23||0–2||Lambeau Field||60,124||Recap|
|3||September 20||Chicago Bears||W 27–15||1–2||Raymond James Stadium||64,328||Recap|
|4||at Detroit Lions||L 6–27||1–3||Pontiac Silverdome||74,724||Recap|
|5||October 4||New York Giants||W 20–3||2–3||Raymond James Stadium||64,989||Recap|
|7||October 18||Carolina Panthers||W 16–13||3–3||Raymond James Stadium||63,600||Recap|
|8||October 25||at New Orleans Saints||L 3–9||3–4||Louisiana Superdome||52,695||Recap|
|9||November 1||Minnesota Vikings||W 27–24||4–4||Raymond James Stadium||64,979||Recap|
|10||November 8||Tennessee Oilers||L 22–31||4–5||Raymond James Stadium||65,054||Recap|
|11||November 15||at Jacksonville Jaguars||L 24–29||4–6||Alltel Stadium||72,974||Recap|
|12||November 22||Detroit Lions||L 25–28||4–7||Raymond James Stadium||64,265||Recap|
|13||November 29||at Chicago Bears||W 31–17||5–7||Soldier Field||51,938||Recap|
|14||Green Bay Packers||W 24–22||6–7||Raymond James Stadium||65,497||Recap|
|15||December 13||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 16–3||7–7||Raymond James Stadium||65,335||Recap|
|16||at Washington Redskins||L 16–20||7–8||Jack Kent Cooke Stadium||66,309||Recap|
|17||December 27||at Cincinnati Bengals||W 35–0||8–8||Riverfront Stadium||49,826||Recap|
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.
The Buccaneers moved out of aging Houlihan's Stadium after the 1997 season. With construction crews still putting the finishing touches on brand new Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers were forced to play all of their preseason games on the road. The team opened with a win against Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game, then faced Kansas City in Oklahoma, an ordeal which saw the team sit at the airport nearly all night.
After another road trip to Miami, the travel started taking a toll on the team. A cross-country trip to Oakland was followed four days later by a game at New Orleans.
Coming off their playoff season from 1997, the Buccaneers opened 1998 with high expectations. Still on the road, their first game in the new stadium would have to wait until week 3. Receiver Bert Emanuel went out with a sprained ankle, and Tampa Bay lost 31–7.
Jacques Green returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown (only his second-career return attempt) to set a franchise record for longest punt return. However, Green Bay won 23–15.
After five games on the road during the preseason, and the first two regular season games played away, the Buccaneers finally were ready for a home game. The highly anticipated first game at brand new Raymond James Stadium saw the Buccaneers host the Bears. After falling behind 15–0 at halftime, Tampa Bay scored 27 unanswered points to win 27–15. Dave Moore caught a one-handed pass for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Warrick Dunn ran for a 44-yard touchdown. Raymond James Stadium was opened with a victory, and the Buccaneers improved to 1–2.
On Monday Night Football, Tampa Bay faced Detroit at the Silverdome. Despite clinging to a 6–3 deficit at halftime, Tampa Bay’s sputtering offense and defensive miscues cost any chance at victory. Barry Sanders rushed for 131 yards, Bryant Westbrook returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, and Terry Fair returned a Lions record 105-yard kickoff return touchdown. Two apparent touchdown passes by Trent Dilfer were called back for penalty, and Tampa Bay fell 27–6.
Only a minute and a half into the game, Charles Mincy intercepted Kanell for a 22-yard touchdown return. Tampa Bay would never trail in the game. The Buccaneer defense held the Giants to only 135 total yards, and picked off Kanell three times in the 20–3 victory.
Tampa Bay evened their record to 3–3 with a win over Carolina. The Panthers led 13–3 in the fourth quarter, but Trent Dilfer led the Buccaneers for a rally in the final 5 minutes. On a roll out, Dilfer ran in for a 1-yard touchdown, then on the next possession, scored the go-ahead touchdown. Karl Williams caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone with 1:39 to go to seal the victory 16–13.
The Buccaneers improved to 3–0 at Raymond James Stadium.
The Tampa Bay offense dropped seven passes, Patrick Hape lost a fumble at the Saints 3-yard line, and Trent Dilfer threw an interception, as offensive futility again plagued the Buccaneers, resulting in a 9–3 loss at New Orleans. Three times the Buccaneers had the ball inside the Saints 25-yard line, but came up with zero points. At one point, Bert Emanuel caught a touchdown pass, but the officials ruled it incomplete, saying he "trapped" the ball against the turf.
The Vikings entered week 9 at Tampa Bay undefeated at 7–0. Derrick Brooks intercepted Randal Cunningham, setting up Warrick Dunn's first touchdown run. A back and forth game saw the score tied 17–17 at halftime. Minnesota took a 24–17 lead in the third quarter, but Tampa Bay came back in the fourth. A field goal followed by a Mike Alstott touchdown run with just under six minutes remaining gave the Bucs a 27–24 lead. The Buccaneers had two rushers over 100 yards: Alstott (128) and Dunn (115), with Alstott sealing the game late with a rush of 38 yards.
Tampa Bay defeated Minnesota 27–24, in what would stand as Minnesota's first loss of 1998, their ONLY loss during the regular season, and the last time the Vikings would lose until they fell to Atlanta in the 1998 NFC Championship Game. The Bucs remained at 0.500, improving to 4–4, and were now 4–0 at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay held a 16-3 halftime lead, but trailing 24–22 at the two-minute warning, Tennessee was facing 3rd down & 8 at their own 29-yard line. A defensive stop by Tampa Bay would have given them the ball back, and an opportunity to drive for a game-winning field goal. However, quarterback Steve McNair broke out for a game-icing 71-yard touchdown run, and the Tennessee Oilers won 31–22.
Tampa Bay was leading 24–23 with three minutes remaining. Fred Taylor broke out for a 70-yard touchdown run with 2:40 left, and Jacksonville won 29–24.
Tampa Bay trailed 21–7, but rallied late. With just over two minutes remaining, Trent Dilfer drove the Buccaneers to the Detroit 11-yard line. He was intercepted in the endzone, and Detroit held on to win 28–25. It was Tampa Bay's third straight loss.
Tampa Bay got back to their winning ways, winning their first road game of the season at Chicago. Late in the second quarter, the Buccaneers blocked a Bears punt, and Ronde Barber scooped it up. He returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown. As time expired in the first half, Trent Dilfer threw up a Hail Mary touchdown, which was caught by Brice Hunter, his first career NFL touchdown. The Bucs took a 21–14 lead into halftime, and won the game 31–17.
Tampa Bay's record was now 5–7, still alive for the wild card hunt.
Tampa Bay hosted Green Bay in their first Monday Night Football home game since 1982. The Buccaneers forced 8 fumbles, and sacked Brett Favre 8 times. Late in the first quarter, Trent Dilfer connected to Jacquez Green for a 64-yard touchdown pass. Minutes later, at the beginning of the second quarter, Dilfer passed to Bert Emanuel in a nearly identical 62-yard touchdown pass. Leading 17–15 in the fourth quarter, Dilfer scrambled through the middle of the Packers defensive line to score a 6-yard touchdown, and a 24–15 lead. Green bay would trim the deficit to 24–22, but the Buccaneers held on to win.
Tampa Bay improved to 6–7 on the season.
Tampa Bay won their third game in a row, shutting down the Steelers to just 168 yard of offense. The Tampa Bay defense intercepted Kordell Stewart three times, and Mike Tomczak once. Mike Alstott ran for 78 yards on a wet and rainy day. The Steelers only points came early in the fourth quarter. After four tries, this was Tampa Bay's first win over Pittsburgh in team history.
Tampa Bay won 16–3 and evened their record at 7–7. They were now back in the hunt for the wild card.
Tampa Bay's playoff chances were dealt a big blow in the Week 16 loss at Washington. Tampa Bay led the Redskins 16–7 early in the fourth quarter, but blew the lead at the end. Leading 16–13 with six minutes to go, Jacquez Green fumbled a kickoff, turning the ball over. On the next play, Stephen Alexander caught the game-winning touchdown for Washington. Tampa Bay had two last chances to come back, but both times, Trent Dilfer threw interceptions.
The Buccaneers fell to 7–8 on the season, and would need to win in week 17 to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Tampa Bay clobbered Cincinnati 35–0, a franchise best for a road shutout until 2020. Mike Alstott scored three rushing touchdowns, and the Bucs defense intercepted the Bengals twice (including a 56-yard return by Ronde Barber)
Tampa Bay finished 8–8 on the season, winning four out of their last five games, and the end of the game, were still alive for an NFC wild card spot. Tampa Bay needed the Giants to beat the Eagles and the Chargers to beat the Cardinals . The Giants won, helping Tampa Bay, but the Cardinals beat the Chargers 16–13 with a 52-yard field goal as time expired. By the time the Buccaneers' plane had landed back in Tampa, they were ousted from the playoffs.
|(1) Minnesota Vikings||15||1||0||.938||556||296||W8|
|(5) Green Bay Packers||11||5||0||.688||408||319||W3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||8||0||.500||314||295||W1|