Pro football outlook: '76 Bucs now have only the Raiders to challenge their infamous record
The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t open that champagne bottle yet, but they got a little closer to preserving their place in history this week.
Three of the league’s winless teams entering the weekend — Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Detroit — posted upset victories on Sunday.
Tennessee surprised the Redskins in Washington 25-22, Tampa Bay edged Cincinnati 14-13 and Detroit downed Buffalo 20-17.
“I just think it’s real important right now that our club understands how this feels, because it’s been a long time,” said coach Jeff Fisher, whose Titans were buoyed by last week’s 14-13 close call against Indianapolis. “They deserved to win this game.”
Lions running back Kevin Jones, who ran for a season-high 127 yards and a score, said it was Detroit’s first-year coach Rod Marinelli and his staff that was deserving of a victory.
“I’m glad we got this because the coaching staff has really been under the microscope, and they don’t deserve that,” Jones said.
So the Oakland Raiders, who also have a new coaching staff and were thumped by the Broncos in Denver Sunday night, remain the only squad without a victory on the season. At 0-5, they’ve scored the fewest points in the league (50) and are a shoo-in to be double-digit underdogs in nearly all their remaining games.
No team in NFL history has ever posted an 0-16 record. But the 1976 Bucs do have the distinction of being the only team since the NFL-AFL merger to get through a season without a victory, going 0-14.
There haven’t been many close calls in recent years. In the past decade, three teams have only won one game all season, the most recent being Carolina in 2001.
But the Raiders are doing their best. So far this year they’ve lost starting QB Aaron Brooks to injury, suspended wideout Jerry Porter four games for “detrimental conduct” but allowed Randy Moss to complain publicly about the team.
They’re last in the league in time of possession and first in the league in turnovers. In five games, their offense has managed only four touchdowns and posted fewer than seven points three times.
Oakland has lost 11 consecutive regular season games and is 13-40 since its trip to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season.
Still, achieving that perfect no-win season is a long way off. The perpetually underachieving Arizona Cardinals visit Oakland next week, and the Houston Texans might still be stuck on one victory when they visit Oakland in December.
The 1976 Bucs, in their inaugural season, were shut out five times and scored 20 points in a game only once. Their starting quarterback, Steve Spurrier, threw only seven touchdowns all year and passed for 1,628 yards.
But things still seemed to work out for him. If current Raiders quarterback Andrew Walter can’t turn the team’s fortunes around, maybe he should try coaching in the SEC instead.
Instant replayCatch the New York Giants’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons on AFN-Sports on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Central Europe time.
The game featured more than 750 yards of offense between the two teams, 482 on the ground. Atlanta RB Warrick Dunn had a 90-yard touchdown run and 146 rushing yards, but Giants RB Tiki Barber countered with 182 yards rushing and 42 receiving.
Also on AFN-Sports this week, see Tennessee get its first victory over a struggling Washington squad (Wednesday, 2 p.m. CET).
And viewers have their choice of last-second, game-winning field goals as well: See Seattle kick a 54-yarder to beat St. Louis (Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. CET) or see the Saints kick a 31-yarder to upset the Eagles (Thursday, 2 p.m. CET).
Shut-up SundayNFL commentators aren’t going to have much to say this week after some of their favorite punching bags silenced critics on Sunday.
Does anyone still think the Steelers would be better served with Ben Roethlisberger on the bench? Several national publications raised the question after seven interceptions in three straight losses.
But he broke out of his early-season slump with two TD passes in his team’s 45-7 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Remember all that talk about Seattle’s post-Super Bowl swoon? The Seahawks are back atop the NFC West after a dramatic last-second victory over St. Louis on Sunday.
Sure, the Seahawks aren’t cruising through the regular season like they did last year. But they are 4-1 (2-0 in the division), with seven games against sub-.500 teams left on their schedule. So reports of their imminent demise might have been premature.
Still think the Saints are a fluke? Heading into their bye, the team is 5-1 with impressive wins over the Eagles and Falcons, and a one-game lead in the division.
They still face games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati before December, but they’re making that 3-13 team in 2005 look like a distant memory.
And remember Terrell Owens? NFL commentators had a laugh riot with his loud sideline complaints and quiet on-field play two weeks ago.
But on Sunday he rebounded from that pitiful three-catch day against the Eagles with a three-touchdown performance against Houston. He may be a jerk, but he might have been right about the Cowboys not using him enough.
Or, at least he might not be lying about being taller than most cornerbacks.
Fantasy notesDon’t be fooled into thinking Ravens QB Kyle Boller is a viable fantasy starter. He threw three TDs against one interception on Sunday, but two of the scores were on ridiculous deflections. He could just have easily had a three interception, one TD day.
If Jets RB Leon Washington is available in any fantasy leagues, grab him. Starting RB Kevan Barlow hasn’t cracked the 50-yard mark this year, and Washington is starting to see a heavier workload.
Denver’s defense has only given up one touchdown so far this season, and that came in the waning moments of a game where they led the Patriots 17-0. They travel to Cleveland this week, where the Browns ground crew probably won’t have to worry much about their end-zone paint job getting messed up.