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Last Bucs’ win against Jets? 1984, and a wild one

By Greg Auman
Cornerback Jeremiah Castille returns an interception in the Bucs' 41-21 victory over the Jets in 1984. (TIMES ARCHIVES)

The Bucs only get AFC opponents once every four years, so there's likely to be a bit more nostalgia leading up to a game like Bucs-Jets on Sunday.

As it turns out, Tampa Bay is 1-10 all-time against the Jets — you remember how close they came to winning in 2013, only to have Lavonte David flagged for a late hit to set up a Jets win. That lone win came in 1984, and it's a doozy.

Bucs won 41-21 to finish a 6-10 season in 1984 — final game in John McKay's nine-year run as head coach, and final game for Lee Roy Selmon, who had two sacks in the game.

But the game is ludicrous (here's our Times game story, from Dave Scheiber), in that McKay did everything he could to help get James Wilder the NFL record for yards from scrimmage — that's rushing yards plus receiving yards. The record had been O.J. Simpson with 2,243 in 1975, and McKay would attempt three onsides kicks (while leading) to try to get Wilder more touches. He essentially allowed the Jets to score to get the ball back for Wilder, who finished with 2,229, and saw Eric Dickerson on the same day finish his 1984 season with a record 2,244.

What's all the more amusing about this wild pursuit of an obscure record is how completely obsolete it is now. Dickerson's record of 2,244 yards is now the 15th-best season for yards from scrimmage, as gaudy offenses have led to better stats — Chris Johnson has that record now, with 2,509 yards in 2009.

The Jets wouldn't forget how that game ended in 1984 — the next year, they faced the Bucs again and ran the score up, winning 62-28. It's still the most points allowed by Tampa Bay in any game in its 42-year history.

One more note: We wrote in April about the Bucs' chance to beat both New York NFL teams in the same season. That's still alive, of course, and they doubled up in 1984 as well.