Remember Tampa Bay’s best moments

by Gary Shelton on April 2, 2020

in general

Ronde Barber had the biggest play in Tampa Bay history./© Joe Mestas

There have been a lot of bad days. There have been a lot of bad players.

There have been bad coaches calling bad plays for bad players. There have been draft picks who fizzled and free agents who flopped. There have been a lot of dejected fans trudging from dejecting games.

We haven't exactly witnessed dynasties in Tampa Bay, have we? The big three of the Bucs, Lightning and Rays have played a total of 95 seasons (counting this Lightning season); They have made the playoffs only 26 times. They have two championships. There haven't been nearly enough parades.

Ah, but every now and then...

There has been a memory.

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Oh, there have been players. Derrick Brooks and Lee Roy Selmon and Warren Sapp. Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford and David Price. We have seen Mike Alstott at the goal line and Derrick Brooks streaking across the field and Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Zobrist.

But what are the 10 best moments? If you were telling your kid about the good times, which 10 would you pick.

One man's list:

1. Bucs 48, Oakland Raiders 21 (Jan. 26 , 2003): As far as individual plays, this one didn't have the drama of the NFC title game that year. But that win over the Eagles is huge only because the Bucs finished the job. The win over the Raiders distinguishes that as the finest season of all for the Bucs.

2. Lightning 2, Calgary Flames 1 (June 7, 2004): The Lightning endured the grueling trek of the Stanley Cup playoffs, getting two goals from Ruslan Fedotenko and stellar goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin and winning Tampa Bay's only title at home.

3. Bucs 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10 (Jan. 19, 2003): Veteran's Stadium had become the place where Bucs' dreams go to die before 2003. But this Bucs' team was more resilient than others. Ronde Barber made the greatest play in Bucs' history when he returned an interception 92 yards to clinch the game.

4. Lightning 3, Flames 2 (June 5, 2004): The Lightning's answer to Barber came when Marty St. Louis scored in double overtime of Game Six to bring the series back to Tampa. It was the ninth goal of the playoffs for St. Louis.

5. Rays 3, Boston Red Sox 1 (October 19, 2008): The Rays got to their only World Series with a 3-1 victory for the American League title. David Price came on to the get the save. The Rays lost the World Series, but it remains their best season.

6. Rays 8, Yankees 7 (Sept. 29. 2018): Evan Longoria's 11th inning home run was the most dramatic in the history of the Rays, helping the team overcome a 7-0 deficit.  Longoria joined Bobby Thomson of the 1951 Giants as the only players to  hit a walkoff homer in the final regular-season game to put his team in the playoffs.

7. Bucs 33, New Orleans 14 (Dec. 11, 1977): After 26 straight losses to open their history, the Bucs finally won one, beating the Saints. Two interception returns for scores gave the Bucs' a 26-0 lead.

8. Rays 10, Indians 15 (Aug. 7, 1999): Who will ever forget the image of Wade Boggs kissing home plate after homering for his 3,000th hit. Few will remember the final score.

9. Bucs trade for Jon Gruden (Feb. 18, 2002): The Bucs were looking in every direction possible after getting jilted by Bill Parcells (again). Most reports thought they were aiming at Steve Mariucci, but the Glazers took over the search and made a huge trade for Gruden. It was worth it.

10. Lightning awarded to Phil Esposito (Dec. 6 1990): The birth of a new franchise is huge. it was when the Rays were awarded to Vince Naimoli in 1995 and when Hugh Culverhouse purchased the Bucs (from original owner Tom McCloskey in 1976). But Esposito has been much of the heartbeat of this franchise throughout its existence.

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