How Many Times Have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles Met in the NFL Playoffs?
The Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be meeting for just the fifth time in their NFL Playoff history when they kick off the three-game Sunday slate in the NFL Playoffs Super Wild Card Round.
The two teams have not met since playing each other three seasons in a row in the playoffs from 2000-02. The third game of that trilogy was the only time the teams met in the NFL Championship Game, but it was the first meeting between the two back in the 1979 season that might have had the most significance for two franchises with precious-little playoff experience as the decade of the 1970s came to a close.
The ’79 Buccaneers go from winless to the NFC Championship, but the Eagles were the ultimate winners
The 1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the great expansion-team success stories of their day, back when the idea of teams like the 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers reaching the conference championship in their second season of existence was completely out of the realm of possibility.
The Buccaneers famously began their life in the NFL with an 0-16 debut season in 1976. But by Year 4, head coach John McKay had put together a solid group, led by quarterback Doug Williams, running back Ricky Bell, tight end Jimmie Giles and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. The Buccaneers went 11-5 and won the NFC Central division as the league’s Cinderella story.
In the Divisional Round against the Eagles, the clock failed to strike midnight, as the Buccaneers won at home, 24-17. The Buccaneers’ dream finally died in the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams, 9-0. But it turned out that the real emerging success story was Dick Vermeil’s Eagles, who shook off the loss to Tampa Bay and won the Super Bowl the next season.
The Buccaneers beat the Eagles in ’02 for the biggest win in their history, then topped it in Super Bowl 37
It would be 20 years before the Buccaneers would duplicate the kind of success it enjoyed in 1979, while the Eagles would remain a regular playoff fixture through the 1980s and ‘90s, but they too would not see a conference championship game for another 20 years.
But beginning in 2001, the Buccaneers and Eagles faced off in the playoffs three consecutive seasons, with the Eagles unknowingly putting Tampa Bay on the path to their first Super Bowl title.
The Bucs had returned to the NFC Championship Game in 1999, but lost to the Rams again, this time in St. Louis with Vermeil coaching Kurt Warner to the title in Super Bowl 34.
The next two seasons, the Buccaneers lost to the Eagles in the Wild Card round, and after the second loss in the 2001 season, the Buccaneers fired head coach Tony Dungy and replaced him with Jon Gruden.
And the move paid off immediately, as the Buccaneers finally got over the NFC Championship Game hurdle in the 2002 season, beating the Eagles 27-10. Two weeks later, Gruden got revenge over the team that had let him go a year earlier, beating the Raiders in Super Bowl 37.
The Buccaneers got the better of the Eagles in Week 6 this season
Both franchises would win their second Super Bowls in the past five years, with the Eagles beating Tom Brady’s Patriots in Super Bowl 52, then last year Brady joined the Buccaneers as a free agent and led them past the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.
This season, the Buccaneers defeated the Eagles 28-22 in Week 6, but that was before head coach Nick Sirianni’s Eagles had come to embrace a running game that allowed them to go 6-2 down the stretch, while the Buccaneers lost receivers Chris Godwin to injury and Antonio Brown to behavior issues.
If history is any guide, this could go either way. The all-time playoff series is tied, 2-2.