Steve DeBerg threw for three touchdowns and James Wilder, who rushed for two touchdowns, set an NFL single-season record with 407 carries, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers give retiring Coach John McKay a final-game 41-21 victory today over the New York Jets.
McKay, the only coach in the team's nine-year history, compiled a 45-91-1 record, including 6-10 this season. The Jets, losing seven of their last eight games, ended at 7-9.
DeBerg threw touchdown passes of three and 18 yards to tight end Jerry Bell and four yards to tight end Jay Carroll. Wilder (103 yards rushing) scored on runs of six and four yards. He finished the season with 1,544 yards rushing and 85 catches for 685 yards, giving him 2,229 total yards, the third-highest total in league history.
The 41 points represented a team record for Tampa Bay.
Jets Coach Joe Walton was furious at McKay because Tampa Bay used several plays, including an onside kick and an intentional defensive lapse, to try to help Wilder get the NFL total-yardage record.
"The way it ended was a total embarrassment to the NFL," Walton said. "It set it back 20 years. It was totally uncalled for."
"I know how the other coach feels but I would've been lynched if I hadn't gone for the record," McKay said. "I'm not too popular around here, anyway, but I would have really been lynched if I hadn't gone for the record."
With Tampa Bay ahead, 41-14, New York scored on Johnny Hector's one-yard run in the final minute as the defense relaxed in an effort to get the ball back.
Wilder's last three carries netted no additional yardage and he finished 15 yards short of Eric Dickerson's total-yardage record of 2,244.
DeBerg completed 26 of 34 passes for 280 yards. He was sacked five times, twice by Mark Gastineau, who finished the season with 22.