One of the most memorable matchups between the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers took place on Sept. 24, 2000.
This Sunday, the New York Jets travel to Tampa Bay with the hopes of improving their surprising playoff chances. In a reversal of what most experts predicted before the season, the host Buccaneers find themselves with a record of 2-6 and losers of five straight.
This is the 12th all-time meeting between these two franchises, with the Jets having won 10 of the previous 11 meetings. It’ll be just the third time that the New York Jets play at Raymond James Stadium.
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During the offseason, the Jets traded their best player, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, to Tampa Bay for two first-round draft picks. The top overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft, Johnson spent four fairly productive seasons with the Jets. He was the team’s leading receiver in each of his last three years with Gang Green and made the Pro Bowl in both 1998 and 1999.
That Week 4 matchup was Johnson’s first chance to show his former team how big of a mistake they made in trading him. Under new head coach Al Groh, the Jets were off to a 3-0 start without their Pro Bowl receiver. The Buccaneers were off to a fast start as well, winning their first three games of the season to set up a battle between undefeated teams.
Trailing 17-6 at the two-minute warning, it looked like the Jets would fall from the ranks of the undefeated. However, when Vinny Testaverde connected with Curtis Martin on a six-yard TD pass, the Jets slim hopes for victory were still alive.
Still possessing all of their timeouts, the Jets chose to kickoff to Tampa instead of trying an onside kick. Taking over at their own 20, the Buccaneers went to their running game to try and kill the clock and put the game away with a first down. However, after running for three yards on first down and forcing the Jets to use their first timeout, Mike Alstott had the ball knocked loose by Marvin Jones. Victor Green pounced on the ball, setting the Jets up at the Buccaneers 24 yard line with 1:48 remaining.
The Jets then dipped into their bag of tricks. After Martin ran for six yards on first down, the Jets called his number again. However, this time instead of running, Martin looked to throw the ball on second down. He spotted Wayne Chrebet in the corner of the end zone to give the Jets a 21-17 lead.
The Buccaneers were shocked after giving up two touchdowns in 54 seconds. When John Abraham’s sack of Shawn King forced another fumble that the Jets recovered, New York had pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.
Lost in the hysteria of the Jets’ comeback win was Keyshawn Johnson’s stat line: One catch for one yard.
The 2000 Jets would wind up falling short of the postseason as they faltered down the stretch, losing six of their last nine games. However, their first visit to Raymond James Stadium will always be a special memory.