I know it's not exactly the time in the NFL season to reflect but gosh darn it this season is historically bad for both teams involved so I would like to bring up better times or at least more meaningful times. I'm talking of course about the rarely brought up but always in the back of my mind (and many a Bucs fans minds), the 1999 NFC Championship game. Many people have told me to let it go. Many have told me the Bucs now own a Superbowl Trophy. Many have told me I am wrong, but I will never get over it unless Tampa goes on an unlikely Patriot-esk run of success of course.
I've recently re-watched the game in it's entirety on youtube (look it up if you wish to relive it) and was in awe of just how completely dominant and uber-talented both teams were in this game as they were through that whole season. Particularly the Bucs Defense and the Rams Offense. To this day I still believe this is the greatest example of "defense wins championships" or rather "defense should have won the championship" I've ever witnessed.
To sum up the strengths of the Rams, for those of you that don't remember, they were The Greatest Show on Turf made of guys like Kurt Warner (a bag boy from Utah or something like that, turned MVP), Marshall Faulk (the best dual threat back EVER), and a bunch of great WR's like Issac Bruce and rookie Tori Holt. Their D was basically the bend but don't break type and very capable.
On the other side of the ball the Bucs Defense could be compared to some of history's greats. They had Defensive MVP Warren Sapp, future MVP Derrick Brooks, great DB's John Lynch, Donnie Abraham, and Ronde Barber. They were faster than anyone else and NEVER missed a tackle. The offense was lead by Rookie Shaun King and Mike Alstott and basically were only asked to run the ball and punt so the D could get back out there and it worked well for them.
Cutting to the chase, the game turns out to be a Defensive struggle in surprise to most everyone but Tampa's fans. The Bucs are soundly keeping the number one offense in check (as they had done to everyone else) and holding onto a 6-5 lead with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Out of nowhere the Rams finally score a 30 yard touchdown pass to take the lead and give the ball to the Bucs for one last drive.
A typically clutch Shaun King leads the team down the field all the way to the Rams 22 overcoming two sacks along the way and has all the momentum. Then comes the horrible, terrible, no good call of the century. A completed 11 yard pass to Bert Emanual with 30 seconds left is reviewed and overturned to make it no catch. More than likely King would have been able to roll into the end zone with four more tries or at least had a great chance.
Now understand this is the first year instant replay has been used and is not yet perfect. A year before the call is a completion and the Bucs are 11 yards from the Super Bowl. During the off-season the "Burt Emanual Rule" comes into effect that changes the bad ruling. Can you belive that?
So how did this happen? The conspiracy theorist in me says the NFL wanted the flashy "throw the ball down the field" Rams in the Superbowl for a higher rated telecast. Or even the fact that the NFL wasn't ready at that time to have Tony Dungy win his first Super Bowl if you know what I mean, but of course that is all speculative.
Sad to say as a Buc's Fan the Rams go on to win the Super Bowl in a very exciting finish and left me wondering what could have been. The Rams went on to lose the big game two years later to the Patriots The Bucs, unable to recover, fail to get past the Eagles in the playoff the next two years and it costs Dungy his job. A championship finally comes to Tampa the next year and finally allows most to move past 1999, but not me. Dungy could of had a dynasty. He could have retired from the Bucs and the city he loves with three or four title and made Tampa the team of the decade.
To sum up, this game... No! this one call, altered the future of organizations and people. While I could write a book on this subject and the fallout just take one thing from this.. DTA, Don't trust anybody.