Tampa Bay scored 10 points in a 70-second span and the team's "no break" defense made two big plays to lift the Buccaneers to a 20-17 victory over the Detroit Lions and their second NFC Central Division title in three years.
The victory meant that Tampa Bay (9-7) will play the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the NFC playoffs Jan. 2 or 3, and that the Detroit Lions will be home for the holidays. Detroit finished with an 8-8 record and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Tampa Bay went ahead to stay when Bill Capece kicked a tie-breaking 30-yard field goal 12 seconds into the fourth quarter and nose tackle David Logan ran 21 yards with a fumble for a touchdown 70 seconds later.
Tampa Bay Coach John McKay said, "We came up with the big plays when we had to."
McKay, who couldn't find any champagne in the locker room after the game, smoked a victory cigar instead. "We'll all get some beer on the way home," he said.
"This is all I wanted for Christmas," said quarterback Doug Williams, who threw an 84-yard touchdown pass to Kevin House in the second quarter. "We proved to people we deserve a little respect."
"They made the plays and we were a little bit short," Detroit Coach Monte Clark said. "(But) we played right to the final gun."
The key was the Buccaneer defense, which has yielded fewer touchdowns than any NFL team.
After Capece's field goal gave the Buccaneers a 13-10 lead, defensive end Lee Roy Selmon hit second-year Lion quarterback Eric Hipple from behind, causing a fumble.
Logan caught the ball as it bounced off the turf and ran untouched 21 yards into the end zone.
The Lions -- cheered on by an NFL-record 80,444 fans hoping their team would raise their Silverdome record to 8-0 -- moved downfield and seemed about to score from the Tampa Bay 13.
But Hipple threw a pass that bounced off Fred Scott's shoulder pads in the end zone, and safety Cedric Brown caught it for his second interception of the game.