Replay Bucs fare no better than real Bucs

Steve Spurrier sacked in 1976.

Football season is still months away, but it’s always football season if you have APBA. For some strange reason, I’ve started a replay of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season1“Don’t you have enough replays going already, Kenn?” “Shut up.”, one of a handful of winless seasons in NFL history.

As someone who lived through the Bucs’ 0-and-26 start, I have long been convinced the ’76 team was unlucky not to win at least three games. They were bad, sure, but not 0-and-14 bad2Truth be told, the ’77 Buc squad that won two games was actually a worse overall team than the expansion group, especially on the offensive side of the ball..They probably should have beaten the Seahawks, Dolphins and Chiefs in ’76, but neither the collection of castoffs nor their coach knew how to win in the NFL at that point, so they’re remembered as an historically bad team rather than just an average expansion team.

The APBA Football game itself, even the old-school version I am using3Original 1977-issue, 1976-season cards, game boards of uncertain vintage, but certainly near or before the same time., is sometimes eerily accurate, as was the case when the Replay Bucs traveled to Houston to take on the Oilers in the Astrodome nearly 44 years after the actual Bucs did.

Buccaneers Crash Ashore in NFL Debut

HOUSTON (Sept. 12, 1976) – NFL expansion teams rarely find smooth sailing in their first foray into the pro football waters4Up to this point, only two of seven expansion teams – the 1953 Baltimore Colts and 1961 Minnesota Vikings – had won their openers, both against the Chicago Bears. Later that day, in real life, the Seattle Seahawks lost their debut, but 30-24 to the Cardinals., but none have run so completely aground as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did in their inaugural game Sunday against the Houston Oilers. John McKay‘s men became the first startup team ever to be shut out in their first game, as they generated just 173 yards in offense and lost 20-05Told you it was eerie sometimes. in the Astrodome.

While the Buc defense didn’t allow a touchdown, the offense managed just three first downs in the first half and 10 in the game6Not much better than the eight first downs the Bucs recorded in the actual game in 1976., turned the ball over twice and went 2-for-17 on third-down conversions7They were 1-for-16 in the actual game. Spooky.. The Oilers did move the ball, with quarterback Dan Pastorini completing 24 of 32 mostly short throws, but used two return touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and record the victory.

Skip Butler missed a 45-yard field goal attempt on Houston’s first possession, and the teams traded punts for most of the rest of the first period. But when Ted Washington intercepted Spurrier to kill a promising Tampa Bay drive at the Houston 22 late in the quarter, the Oilers went on an 11-play drive that finally stalled at the Tampa Bay 9, and Butler redeemed himself with a 26-yard kick for the first points of the day.

Another 11-play Houston drive in the second quarter ended when Oiler coach Bum Phillips elected to go for it on fourth down and two from the Tampa Bay 7 with just over two minutes left in the half. Pastorini threw just over the head of running back Joe Dawkins at the goal line, turning the ball over on downs and keeping the score 3-0 at the half.

Butler added another field goal, a 29-yarder, to make it a 6-0 game just over six minutes into the third. Seeking an offensive spark, McKay inserted rookie passer Parnell Dickinson in relief of Spurrier, but the Mississippi Valley State product couldn’t get much going either. When Dave Green punted for the 12th time8Green punted 11 times in the actual game, which was not a record at the time, but was close. with six minutes left, Ronnie Coleman fielded it at his own 30, cut to the right, burst through the initial return line of the Bucs and sprinted down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown9Coleman did score on a punt return in 1976, a 69-yarder for Houston’s only score in a 27-7 loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 24.. Butler’s extra point made it 13-0.

Dickinson completed a pair of passes to get the Bucs a first down just shy of midfield with four and a half minutes left, but then fumbled the ball, which bounced right up into the arms of Curley Culp, who ran 45 yards for the clinching touchdown.

Spurrier returned and led the Bucs from their own 20 to the Houston 23. His 45-yard pass to tight end Bob Moore was Tampa Bay’s longest play of the day, but the Bucs turned the ball over on downs at the Oiler 21 with just under two minutes to play. The Bucs did force a punt, but four straight incompletions killed their final chance to get anything on the board, and their maiden voyage ended exactly as the real one did, with a 20-0 loss.

The Oilers didn’t do anywhere near as well offensively in the replay as they did in the original game. Coleman ran for 142 yards and Pastorini threw for two scores in real life, but the Houston offense generated no touchdowns in the replay, and mustered just 253 total yards (compared to 372 in real life). The Bucs were slightly better offensively, running 10 more plays than in real life, generating 173 total yards (to 108 in real life) and completing twice as many passes (18 to 9) while only being sacked once (the Bucs gave up five sacks in the original game).

So it’s one down and thirteen to go. At least I don’t have to watch them every week.

Team
1
2
3
4
Total
Tampa Bay
0
0
0
0
0
Houston
0
3
3
14
20
QtrTimeTeamScoring PlayDriveScore
211:15HOUFG Butler 2570 yds/11 plays/4:500-3
38:25HOUFG Butler 2953 yards/8 plays/3:230-6
45:44HOUColeman 70 punt return (Butler kick) 0-13
44:28HOUCulp 45 fumble return (Butler kick) 0-20
                                   ~ TEAM STATISTICS ~
     ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
                 TB                                                 HOU 
                ---                                                 --- 
                 10     -------------- First Downs --------------    19
        3 /  7 /  0     ----- First Downs: Run / Pass / Pen -----     4 / 12 /  3
           31 /  42     ------------ Rushes / Yards -------------    39 /  80
                1.4     ------------ Yards Per Rush -------------   2.1
        37 / 18 / 1     --------------- A / C / I ---------------    32 / 24 / 1
                145     ------------- Passing Yards -------------   182
                8.1     --------- Yards Per Completion ----------   7.6
            3 /  34     ----------- Penalties / Yards -----------     1 /   5
            1 /   9     ------ QB Sacks by Defense / Yards ------     1 /  14
                173     -------------- Total Yards --------------   253
             1 /  1     ------------ Fumbles / Lost -------------     0 /  0
             0 /  0     ------ Field Goal Attempts / Made -------     3 /  2
                  0     ---- FG Attempts Blocked By Defense -----     0
   12 / 499 /  41.6     -------- Punts / Yards / Average --------     9 / 354 /  39.3
                  0     ------- Punts Blocked By Defense --------     0
    4 /  48 /  12.0     ---- Punt Returns / Yards / Average -----     7 /  73 /  10.4
    3 /  50 /  16.7     -- Kick Off Returns / Yards / Average ---     1 /  39 /  39.0
    2 /  17 /   12%     ---------- 3rd Down Efficiency ----------     3 /  16 /   19%
    1 /   3 /   33%     ---------- 4th Down Efficiency ----------     0 /   1 /    0%
              26:08     ---------- Time Of Possession -----------     33:52

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
******************************************
RUSHING:                        NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Louis Carter                    14      31     0    10      2.2
Essex Johnson                    2      10     0    10      5.0
Jimmy DuBose                     5      10     0     4      2.0
Steve Spurrier                   1      -1     0     0     -1.0
Charlie Davis                    3       5     0     8      1.7
Manfred Moore                    2      -6     0     0     -3.0
Parnell Dickinson                4      -7     0     0     -1.8
---------------------------------------------
PASSING:                         A   C   YARDS   I    TD    LG      CMP%      Y/A      Y/C      QBR
Steve Spurrier                  30  13     113   1     0    45     43.3%      3.8      8.7     40.0
Parnell Dickinson                7   5      32   0     0    12     71.4%      4.6      6.4     80.7
-------------------------------------
RECEIVING:                      NO   YARDS    TD    LG      Y/R
John McKay                       5      19     0     5      3.8
Louis Carter                     3      30     0    21     10.0
Essex Johnson                    3      27     0    12      9.0
Bob Moore                        2      47     0    45     23.5
Lee McGriff                      2      13     0    11      6.5
Freddie Douglas                  1       4     0     4      4.0
Manfred Moore                    1       3     0     3      3.0
Jimmy DuBose                     1       2     0     2      2.0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLES (RB-REC-QB):            NO   LOST
Parnell Dickinson                1      1
-------------------------------------
QB SACKS:                       NO 
Lee Roy Selmon                   1
-------------------------------------
INTERCEPTION RETURNS:           NO   YARDS    TD    LG
Mike Washington                  1      11     0    11
-------------------------------------
KICK-OFF RETURNS:               NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Isaac Hagins                     2      39     0    30     19.5
Louis Carter                     1      11     0    11     11.0
-------------------------------------
PUNT RETURNS:                   NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Danny Reece                      2       3     0     5      1.5
Ken Stone                        1      15     0    15     15.0
Freddie Douglas                  1      30     0    30     30.0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLE RETURNS:                 NO   YARDS    TD    LG
None
------------------------------------
PUNTING:                        NO   YARDS     LG      AVG     BLK
Dave Green                      12     499     51     41.6       0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLES (ALL PLAYERS):          NO   LOST
Parnell Dickinson                1      1
-------------------------------------
                                               0 - 29    30 - 39    40 - 49       50+
FIELD GOALS & PATS:    FGA  FGM  FGB     -     A    M     A    M     A    M     A    M     -     XPA   XPM
None
-------------------------------------

HOUSTON OILERS INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
***********************************
RUSHING:                        NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Ronnie Coleman                  12      37     0    15      3.1
Fred Willis                      9      31     0    11      3.4
Don Hardeman                     4      18     0     8      4.5
Dan Pastorini                    3       2     0     7      0.7
Billy Johnson                    1       1     0     1      1.0
Joe Dawkins                     10      -9     0     9     -0.9
---------------------------------------------
PASSING:                         A   C   YARDS   I    TD    LG      CMP%      Y/A      Y/C      QBR
Dan Pastorini                   32  24     182   1     0    29     75.0%      5.7      7.6     75.3
-------------------------------------
RECEIVING:                      NO   YARDS    TD    LG      Y/R
Billy Johnson                    7      59     0    29      8.4
Ken Burrough                     6      61     0    16     10.2
Fred Willis                      3      10     0     4      3.3
Joe Dawkins                      2      21     0    17     10.5
John Sawyer                      2      15     0    11      7.5
Ronnie Coleman                   2       5     0     3      2.5
Mack Alston                      1       6     0     6      6.0
Mike Barber                      1       5     0     5      5.0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLES (RB-REC-QB):            NO   LOST
None
-------------------------------------
QB SACKS:                       NO 
John Little                      1
-------------------------------------
INTERCEPTION RETURNS:           NO   YARDS    TD    LG
Ted Washington                   1      -1     0     0
-------------------------------------
KICK-OFF RETURNS:               NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Billy Johnson                    1      39     0    39     39.0
-------------------------------------
PUNT RETURNS:                   NO   YARDS    TD    LG      AVG
Billy Johnson                    5       4     0     2      0.8
Zeke Moore                       1      -1     0     0     -1.0
Ronnie Coleman                   1      70     1    70     70.0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLE RETURNS:                 NO   YARDS    TD    LG
Curley Culp                      1      45     1    45
-------------------------------------
PUNTING:                        NO   YARDS     LG      AVG     BLK
Dan Pastorini                    9     354     57     39.3       0
-------------------------------------
FUMBLES (ALL PLAYERS):          NO   LOST
None
-------------------------------------
                                               0 - 29    30 - 39    40 - 49       50+
FIELD GOALS & PATS:    FGA  FGM  FGB     -     A    M     A    M     A    M     A    M     -     XPA   XPM
Skip Butler              3    2    0           2    2     0    0     1    0     0    0             2     2
-------------------------------------

Abbreviations:  (1PAT) = One-Point-After Touchdown;            (FGA) = Field Goals Attempted
                (2PAT) = Two-Points-After Touchdown;           (FGM) = Field Goals Made
                (S)    = Safety (Two Points);                  (FGB) = Field Goal Attempts Blocked
                (FG)   = Field Goal (Three Points);            (XPA) = Extra Points Attempted
                (TD)   = Touchdown (Six Points)                (XPM) = Extra Points Made
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - STATISTICS BY QUARTER
********************************************
                                   1ST     2ND     3RD     4TH     TOTAL
                                   ---     ---     ---     ---     -----
Rushing Attempts --------------    9       9       8       5       31
Rushing Yards -----------------    18      19      3       2       42 
Pass Attempts -----------------    9       5       6       17      37
Pass Completions --------------    5       2       2       9       18
Passing Yards -----------------    41      9       8       87     145
Pass Interceptions ------------    1       0       0       0        1 
1st Downs ---------------------    3       2       1       4       10
1st Downs - Rushing -----------    1       2       0       0        3 
1st Downs - Passing -----------    2       0       1       4        7 
1st Downs - Penalty -----------    0       0       0       0        0 
QB Sacks ----------------------    0       0       0       1        1 
QB Sack Yards -----------------    0       0       0       14      14 
Fumbles -----------------------    0       0       0       1        1 
Fumbles Lost ------------------    0       0       0       1        1 
Penalties ---------------------    1       1       1       0        3 
Penalty Yards -----------------    15      5       14      0       34 
Time of Possession ------------    07:02   04:30   06:42   07:54   26:08
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
HOUSTON OILERS - STATISTICS BY QUARTER
**************************************
                                  1ST     2ND     3RD     4TH     TOTAL
                                  ---     ---     ---     ---     -----
Rushing Attempts --------------    9       9       9       12      39
Rushing Yards -----------------    22      30      0       28      80 
Pass Attempts -----------------    6       14      9       3       32
Pass Completions --------------    4       10      7       3       24
Passing Yards -----------------    31      75      71      5      182
Pass Interceptions ------------    0       1       0       0        1 
1st Downs ---------------------    4       7       5       3       19
1st Downs - Rushing -----------    1       1       0       2        4 
1st Downs - Passing -----------    2       5       4       1       12
1st Downs - Penalty -----------    1       1       1       0        3 
QB Sacks ----------------------    1       0       0       0        1 
QB Sack Yards -----------------    9       0       0       0        9  
Fumbles -----------------------    0       0       0       0        0 
Fumbles Lost ------------------    0       0       0       0        0 
Penalties ---------------------    0       0       1       0        1 
Penalty Yards -----------------    0       0       5       0        5  
Time of Possession ------------    07:58   10:30   08:18   07:06   33:52
Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch

One thought on “Replay Bucs fare no better than real Bucs

  1. The ’76 Creamsicles did indeed win three games in my full-season replay, and held the Pats to a tie in the season-ender to finish 3-10-1. Full stats are in Sports Sim Magazine issue No. 11 (February 2023).

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