Fifteen years ago Friday, the Buccaneers gave the Rams the ultimate scare

AP

Fifteen years ago Friday, one of the biggest upsets in postseason history came oh-so-close to being sprung.

The Buccaneers, 14.5-point underdogs, gave the Rams all they could handle in the 1999 NFC Championship, but they fell just short in an 11-6 loss in St. Louis.

The Buccaneers picked off Rams quarterback Kurt Warner three times. They shut down the St. Louis running game, limiting Marshall Faulk to just 44 yards on 17 carries. But St. Louis managed the game’s only touchdown — a Warner-to-Ricky Proehl 30-yard strike with 4:44 left — and that was the decisive blow. The Bucs put together one final promising drive that reached the St. Louis 22, but the Rams pushed them back, got a favorable call on a potential Bert Emanuel catch and held on for the win.

There was an upset in the other conference-title game, too, though it might not have seemed like it. For the third time in the ’99 season, the Titans knocked off the Jaguars, pulling away to a 33-14 victory in Jacksonville to capture the AFC crown.

A seven-point underdog, Tennessee seized control with 16 points in a 4:28 span in the third quarter. Then, the Titans put the game away in the fourth quarter, with Steve McNair’s 51-yard run setting up the quarterback’s one-yard score one play later.

Ultimately, Tennessee was the only club to defeat Jacksonville all season, with the Jaguars going 15-0 against all other competition.

The Titans and Rams would meet a week later in Super Bowl XXXIV, and it was a classic, with St. Louis stopping Tennessee in the shadow of the endzone as time expired in a 23-16 Rams win.

46 responses to “Fifteen years ago Friday, the Buccaneers gave the Rams the ultimate scare

  1. How the times have changed. Fifteen years ago these were the top four teams in football. Now three of them are picking near the top of the draft and the other team (the Rams) missed the playoffs. In fact, it’s been a few years since any of these teams have been in the playoffs.

  2. Damn I was in 8th grade and rooting for the Bucs to win. The Bucs defensed Warner so well in that game I thought they would actually pull off the upset. And might have if they gave Bert Emanuel that catch. Probably one of the best NFC title games Ive seen.

  3. I remember the Titans and the Jags used to have fierce battles, they’d kill each other every time they played.

  4. Dear smug 16 year olds on the Texans sub reddit,

    Please refer to this Titans team as to why they should and will forever be the most hated team by Texans fans in response to your stupid little question. The Texans began play in 2002, not 2011.

  5. The next year, it was the Ravens pulling the road upset against the #1 seed Titans, who came back strong after their near Super Bowl win and looked like they were heading back there. Alas, even though they dominated that game in terms of yardage and first downs gained, the Ravens D kept them from scoring much & Baltimore got a defensive TD by Ray Lewis as well as a special team TD on a blocked FG return.

  6. So we are clear. Jacksonville played 16 regular season games and went 14 and 2 both losses to Tennessee they played 2 playoff game beating Miami and again losing to Tennessee Combined record was 15 and 3 with all losses to Tennessee

  7. I was still in high school and didn’t really care about football yet. Sounds so crazy to think about TEN and JAX playing for the AFC Title. And the other two were the Rams and Bucs?? Shows you how crazy the NFL can be and how all teams go through ups and downs. Craziness.

  8. @patswin:

    #1) You need to grip reality, soon.
    #2) Stop using ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about your patriots.
    You don’t suit up, you don’t play.
    #3) Go finish your homework and take out the trash.

  9. Lest you forget, one week earlier the Jags beat the Dolphins 62-7, in what was Dan Marino AND Coach Jimmy Johnson’s last game…. That’s right, 62-7, in an NFL playoff game! Jags qb? Mark Brunell. Coach? Tom Coughlin…

  10. Too bad the refs don’t know what a forward lateral was that year, or else the Titans wouldn’t even have made it past the wild card.

  11. muslimponder says:
    Jan 23, 2015 7:30 PM
    Those Bucs defenses in that 3-4 stretch were nasty.

    ________________________________________

    not sure if you mean 3-4 defense (which was a 4-3) or 3-4 YEAR stretch (which was really 10 years of consecutive top 10 D’s)?

  12. I’ll never forget that Buc defensive performance. To this day, one of the most remarkable d efforts ever. 11 points against the “Greatest Show on Turf”. And still managed to lose.

    Thanks much, Shawn King.

  13. If Tampa had any sort of offense they would have been a dynasty in that era….all their $ was on defense.

  14. Truly a crime the Bucs couldn’t put ANY resemblance of an offense during that few year stretch… Easily couldve won the Super Bowl that year…,
    I about died when Proehl caught that pass.
    His only friggin catch of the game by the way….

    At least they figured it out a few years later. Wouldve been a travesty had Brooks, Sapp & Lynch gone without a ring…

  15. That was the year Trent Dilfer got benched for Eric Zeier. Zeier got hurt, so Dilfer took over as starter again and played better than he ever had–then got a broken clavicle and was out for the season. So Shaun King had to start for a playoff contender as a rookie.

    King actually did pretty well, considering the circumstances. But the offense was still putrid overall. Mainly because the offensive line was so terrible.

  16. 1999 i was in 11th/12th grade didnt watch the
    whole game but remember it was on NFL On Fox
    shaun king was a decent qb just needed a line and some legit WRs and RB besides alstoot
    yes the jaguars where good
    from mid 90s too the 2002 mark brunell’s best years there defense and offense matched it each other perfectly

  17. Mike Alstott…. If ever a full back deserved to be in the Hall of Fame…. He was the best at the role he played. By far.

  18. If Emanuel makes that catch, it’s still 3rd and 11 from the 26. No guarantees there. They didn’t score a TD in the first 59 minutes, so it wasn’t a given.

    And, Proehl led the Rams that day with 6 catches for 100 yards. Wasn’t his only catch. Was his only TD of the year.

  19. Those buc’s teams were good. To bad they had horrible Trent Dilfer all those years at QB, if he could play qb like he talks about qb’s he would have been pretty good.

  20. It sounds stupid but this was the greatest defensive tackling performance in the history of the NFL. That Rams offense was an absolute machine at home in 99 and the Bucs took them down to the wire without a speck of offensive production.

    The game will be remembered for the Proehl catch and Emanuel incompletion.

    But it was a matchup of greatness. How many HOF players were on the field when it was Rams offense vs Bucs defense? A bunch. And the Bucs won that battle.

  21. dan073eb says: Jan 23, 2015 9:09 PM

    Too bad the refs don’t know what a forward lateral was that year, or else the Titans wouldn’t even have made it past the wild card.
    ***********************************************
    Nice try but the fact is the Bills choked it away, yet again.

  22. Ah yes…the Bert Emanuel non-catch.

    So it was 15 years ago they changed the catch rules because of one non-catch. And now it’s the worst rule in football. Funny, the Emanuel thing barely ever happened, the Calvin Johnson/Dez Bryant rule comes up every game it seems.

    There is no problem with enforcement of catches in the CFL… there was no problem prior to the change in the NFL. People keep asking for a better rule in order to change it. It was perfect before…change it back. Just don’t have the force out rule as it existed prior and it’s perfect.

  23. blackqbwhiterb says:
    Jan 23, 2015 9:07 PM

    Lest you forget, one week earlier the Jags beat the Dolphins 62-7, in what was Dan Marino AND Coach Jimmy Johnson’s last game…. That’s right, 62-7, in an NFL playoff game! Jags qb? Mark Brunell. Coach? Tom Coughlin

    I remember that game, didn’t Jacksonville’s staff turn on the sprinklers in Miami’s end zone.

    I can still remember the very last play of the rams vrs bucs.. forgot the lineman’s name but I remember the arm going through the bucs offensive line and pulling king down by his lower leg.

  24. joetoronto says:
    Jan 24, 2015 6:27 AM
    dan073eb says: Jan 23, 2015 9:09 PM

    Too bad the refs don’t know what a forward lateral was that year, or else the Titans wouldn’t even have made it past the wild card.
    ***********************************************
    Nice try but the fact is the Bills choked it away, yet again
    ————————————————————-
    The only team that choked were the refs.

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