Two years after leaving San Diego as Super Bowl champs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were sent away with fractured playoff dreams after a 31-24 loss to the Chargers that turned on two fourth-quarter giveaways
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will still have warm memories of San Diego. They just won’t look back very fondly on their visit of December, 2004.
Almost two years after winning Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday with their 2004 playoff dreams needing a new charge. Instead, the hometown Chargers drained some energy from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ late-season surge with a 31-24 defeat keyed by LB Donnie Edwards’ 30-yard touchdown return of an interception late in the fourth quarter.
Before Edwards’s play, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to appeared to seize the momentum from the first-place Chargers, as rookie WR Michael Clayton made a dazzling one-handed touchdown catch to tie the game at 21-21. The Tampa Bay Buccaneer defense then forced a quick three-and-out, thanks to a sack by DE Simeon Rice, and got the ball back at their own 15 with six minutes to play.
But Edwards got the lead back for the Chargers with his second interception of the game and the Chargers tacked on a game-clinching field goal at the two-minute warning after San Diego’s fourth takeaway of the game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drove 38 yards for their own field goal in the closing seconds but failed on the ensuing onside kick attempt.
Griese threw for a season-high 392 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions, though one was a harmless turnover on a ‘Hail Mary’ pass at the end of the first half. He went to receivers Clayton and Joey Galloway repeatedly, as the two combined for 15 catches for 223 yards and three scores. Clayton set career highs with nine receptions for 145 yards and Galloway, who had found the end zone for the first time as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer a week ago, scored twice more on five catches before being forced out of the game in the fourth quarter with cramps.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their sixth road game in seven tries in 2004 despite racking up a season-best 436 yards of offense and out-gaining San Diego by exactly 100 yards. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed by seven points three times through the first three-and-a-half quarters and were able to tie the game each time, but were never in the lead.