Raymond James Stadium


And here I am in Raymond James Stadium!

Finally--two weekends deep in November and I'm seeing my first football game of the year. It's almost embarrassing. But, I don't create the schedule and this game was picked for good reason. You see, Big Blue is in town, along with a bunch of my closest Big Blue buddies. Just like last year in Jacksonville, we circled this date on the calendar when the schedule came out.

My day started with yet another stupid early flight, and once again I somehow woke up 2 minutes before my 4:00 am alarm, initially panicking since I thought I might have missed it. Though it was a nice crisp early morning with temps in the 30s, there was no snow in the yard like last year. The night sky created the beauty this time, with a sinking crescent moon being chased to the horizon by a bright Venus and Jupiter, coupled with some clearly visible Leonid meteor shower bursts that were actually a bit alarming in my pre-caffeinated drive down 684.

I didn't allow myself to get distracted, though, and arrived safely at LGA in ample time for my 7:15 flight. Plenty of other fans in Giants gear joined me at the gate. Big Blue surely would be well represented.

I arrived in Tampa in time for a late breakfast, opting for a recommended place near my hotel. I had packed lightly because it's just an overnight trip, but also because it is hot and humid, with temperatures now in the 80s: no jacket or long sleeves required. Changing to shorts was my first order of business. This is not football weather, especially for November. Some places out west have opened ski resorts, but warm weather in the east means no hopes of skiing for a few more weeks.

Before the game, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't expect the offense to repeat its six-TD effort (plus one on defense), and I certainly hoped the defense didn't yield seven more. I did hope, however, that the return of JPP would strengthen the defense big time. The gang discussed this all over our informal tailgate. Once inside the stadium, the next noteworthy occurrence was the pregame Veteran's Day tribute, which included veterans sky-diving into the stadium, a low flyover of military helicopters escorting a huge prop plane and Buzz Aldrin in the Bucs' iconic pirate ship. Great stuff!
One of three military veterans coming in for a landing (circled) during pregame ceremonies.
All of the pregame hopes proved true. The Giants started by being intercepted on the first play of the game and yielding a FG. Then, the Giants got ahead and stayed ahead. Nothing spectacular, but they oddly felt in control most of the way and never surrendered the lead. JPP ensured that with some strong fourth quarter play. I'll take a conference road win any time. 

Opening kickoff!
JPP on the sideline
(with the coach in front of him, and another pass rusher behind)



As for my all-important stats, the Bucs become the 28th team I've seen play at home. I'm 7/8 of the way there! I have four teams and seven stadiums to go. Seeing the Bucs at home means I've knocked off the NFC south, and have seen all four teams of half of the eight NFL Divisions. Not bad...

Reveling for just a bit post game at our seats, fans took pictures of each other.
I obliged and let mine be taken...
One final bit of bemusement awaited me when opening my hotel curtains the next morning. I had dropped my bag off at the hotel after the late breakfast, and walked over to the tailgate party. Checking in to the hotel after the game and well after dark, I had no idea that a fine view of the stadium was right outside my window.
The stadium view from my room.
I'm really glad I made the trip, and got to see the Giants win on the road for the first time since seeing them in Indy...in 1990. It was also good to see the gang from last year (and note to self: start eyeing the 2016 matchups). I also should mention the very friendly crowd. Despite the very large number of Giants fans who once again made the trip to Florida for a November game, it was a passive crowd. A bitter taste in my mouth remains from a Yankees at Rays game in 2010, but there was nothing resembling that here. Also noteworthy is George Steinbrenner field right across the street from the Stadium. Surely I'll be back for a Baby Yankees' game...

Go Blue!

And, for good measure, here is my updated stadium chart:



Year
Date
Home team
Stadium
Opponent, score, notes
1988

Giants / Jets
Giants*
Giants & Jets home games
1990
11/4
Browns
Municipal
BUF42-CLE0
11/5
Colts
Hoosierdome
NYG24-IND7
1991
9/8
Bengals
Riverfront
HOU30-CIN7
9/15
Bears
Soldier Field
CHI20-NYG17
1993
12/11
Redskins
RFK
NYJ3-WAS0
1997
12/7
Ravens
Memorial Stadium
BAL31-SEA24
1998
11/1
Redskins
Jack Kent Cooke* (Fedex)
WAS21-NYG14
2000
11/19
Ravens
PSINet*
BAL27-DAL0
12/3
Chargers
Qualcomm
SF45-SD17
2001
12/2
Dolphins
Pro Player
MIA21-DEN10
2002
10/20
Saints
Superdome
NO35-SF27
2003
10/12
Packers
Lambeau Field
KC40-GB34 OT
2006
11/12
Raiders
McAfee Field
DEN17-OAK13
2007
10/14
Seahawks
QWest Field
NO28-SEA17
2008
11/9
Falcons
Georgiadome
ATL34-NO20
2009
10/4
Patriots
Gillette
NE27-BAL21
11/15
Titans
LP Stadium
TN41-BUF17
2010
10/24
Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
CAR23-SF20
11/28
Giants
New Meadowlands Arena*
NYG24-JAC20
2011
9/24
Rams
Edward Jones Dome
BAL37-STL7
11/6
Bills
Ralph Wilson Stadium
NYJ27-BUF11 (day)
Steelers
Heinz Field
BAL23-PIT20 (night)
2012
9/9
Vikings
Mall of America Field
MIN26-JAC23 OT
9/30
Cardinals
Phoenix Stadium
ARZ23-MIA20 OT
11/18
Chiefs
Arrowhead
CIN28-KC6
2013
11/3
Jets
MetLife
NYJ26-NO20
12/12
Broncos
Sports Authority Field
SD27-DEN20
2014
11/23
Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field
PHI43-TEN24
11/30
Jaguars
EverBank Field
JAC25-NYG24
2015
11/8
Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
NYG32-TMP18
 

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