** Clifton Smith joins the club **
Micheal Spurlock has some company. The Bucs' Clifton Smith returned a second-quarter kickoff 97 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday for the second kickoff return TD in franchise history.
Thank you Micheal Spurlock!
7-3 Tampa. Bucs are set to return the kick with Michael Spurlock. Spurlock past the 20. Past the 30. Could it be? Could it be the great curse has been lifted? There goes Micheal Spurlock. And for the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Santa Maria!
— Matt Vasgersian, Fox Sports
The curse is finally broken, and the miracle occurred just 11 days after the launching of PointOfNoReturns.com, a site dedicated to the Bucs' dubious streak of never returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
Are we claiming responsibility for the TD? No. That honor goes to Micheal Spurlock and the 10 other Bucs who cleared his 90-yard path toward the end zone. But if the creation of this Web site helped lift some of that 31¾-year negative Karma, then so be it!
How long did the streak last?
Our counter stopped at:
11408 days 0 hours 29 min15sec
And how many returns was that?
The team is saying the curse was broken on the 1,865th regular-season kickoff return. Our counter – created after culling 31¾ years of stats on NFL.com – was at 1,883.
What stadium music was playing?
Spurlock fielded the ball to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.
The 10 players who cleared the path were Will Allen, Anthony Becht, Quincy Black, Michael Clayton, Adam Hayward, Keith Heinrich, Matt Lehr, Ryan Nece, Alex Smith and Kalvin Pearson.
Darn, I missed it!
That's OK. Click here to watch the clip.
So what's the purpose of this site now?
Wow, loaded question. One never creates a Web site hoping it will become obsolete within two weeks, but if this is what it took to break the curse, oh well. Since the domain name registration is good for another 11 months, then I guess it'll serve as an online shrine to the miracle moment and Micheal Spurlock.
Who on the Bucs had the most tries?
A Top 10 list is below, or you can click here for a full list sorted by the number of attempts. Click here for an alphabetical list of returners.
||Bobby Joe Edmonds
OK, wait a sec. There must have been at least one other team never to have returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Right?
Nope, the Bucs were all alone here. We checked.
Even the Houston Texans?
Yep. Even the Texans, who entered the league in 2002, had done it. In fact they have four returns for touchdowns to date, with the latest coming in the Dec. 9 game against the Bucs when Andre Davis opened the second half with a 97-yard TD run. The other three were all by wide receiver/return specialist Jerome Mathis. He took one 89 yards against the Colts in 2005 and added a 99-yarder versus the Chiefs later that year. Early in 2007 against the Colts, Mathis returned an opening kickoff 84 yards for his third career kickoff-return touchdown.
Playoffs? ... Don't talk about ... playoffs?
Sorry Mr. Mora, but we do need to talk about playoffs. The 1,865 (or 1,883) kickoff returns without a touchdown stat actually does not include the playoffs. To make it complete, we'd need to mention the 55 postseason returns resulting in zero points. Since the Bucs just clinched the NFC South, maybe we'll break this one this year as well.
Many happy returns ... in preseason
Maybe the Bucs
should have saved it for when it counts! The team had five preseason kickoff returns for touchdowns during its 31¾-year history, and two of them came before the Bucs played their first-ever regular season game.
Here's the list: (A quick note on No. 4 on the list: I was in RJS for Yo Murphy's 93-yarder in 1999. There were a few joyous moments in the stands before we realized that the return actually didn't break the streak.)
Aug. 28, 1976 - Isaac Hagins returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown
Sept. 4, 1976 - A week later, Hagins fielded the ball in the enzone and sprinted 102 yards for a score against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sept. 5, 1987 - Bobby Futrell ran back a kickoff 92 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
Aug. 28, 1999 - Yo Murphy fielded a kickoff from the New England Patriots at the 7 yard line and ran 93 yards for a touchdown.
Aug. 12, 2002 - Frank Murphy returned a kickoff 95 yards against the Miami Dolphins.
Perhaps we should have pushed to start the regular season in August?
Wow, 31¾ years. That's a long drought.
Yep. Long enough to span five U.S. presidencies. It started back when Gerald Ford was in office, cruised through Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and it continued well into the George W. Bush era.
Was it the stadium?
No. Fans at Raymond James Stadium did in fact seen the home team return a kickoff for a touchdown before Spurlock's run. It just wasn't the Bucs. On Nov. 3, 2007, University of South Florida defensive back Mike Jenkins scored a touchdown on a 100-yard kickoff return during a 38-33 loss to Cincinnati.
What about the old stadium?
I'm not entirely sure, but I can't find any records of the USFL Tampa Bay Bandits ever returning a touchdown for a kickoff at the Old Sombrero, so maybe there's something to that theory. I do remember demolition crews having to chase out a ton of bats living in the rafters when they tore it down, so maybe it was haunted or something.
So how far did a Buc made it before Spurlock?
86 yards. Aaron Stecker, now a New Orleans Saint, holds the Bucs' record for the longest kickoff return in franchise history, running the ball back that far in 2002. That eclipsed Vernon Turner's previous record of 77 yards set in 1994.
Speaking of the Saints (and just to add insult to injury), that team returned its first kickoff in franchise history for a touchdown. (John Gilliam).
What about punt returns?
Yes, the Bucs have returned punts for touchdowns – 10, actually. They're much more common, since punts can be blocked and then taken for just a short distance.