National Football League

Oakland Raiders 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
January 26, 2003
Attendance: 67,603
Oakland Raiders (AFC)3061221
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC)317141448
Most Valuable Player: Dexter Jackson
Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson had two interceptions for the Bucs.
Dwight Smith returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns and Derrick Brooks picked off another pass and ran it back for a score, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Brad Johnson threw a pair of touchdown passes to Keenan McCardell and Michael Pittman rushed for 124 yards on 29 carries for Tampa Bay, which captured the Super Bowl in its first appearance in the title game.

"It's an incredible feeling, one time in your life to say that you are the best in the world," said Johnson. "It doesn't last very long, but for one moment it is incredible."

Johnson completed 18-of-34 passes for 215 yards and was picked off once. Mike Alstott ran for a score for Tampa Bay, which lived up to its billing as the league's top-rated defense by picking off NFL MVP Rich Gannon a Super Bowl- record five times. The Bucs also limited Oakland's No. 1 ranked offense to 19 yards rushing.

Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson had two interceptions for the Bucs, who erupted for 34 unanswered points, including a pair of touchdowns 43 seconds apart in the third quarter. The Raiders cut a 34-3 deficit to 34-21, but Brooks, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Smith returned interceptions for scores 1:16 apart late in the fourth quarter to seal Tampa Bay's triumph.

"They know tonight that we're for real, our speed is that fast," Jackson said. "We just run to the ball. That's our thing. When you get 11 guys running to the ball, no one can beat you."

Jon Gruden, in his initial season as coach of Tampa Bay, beat his former team. Gruden was allowed out of the final year of his Raiders' contract because the Glazer family, owners of the Buccaneers, gave Oakland owner Al Davis $8 million along with two first-round and two second-round draft picks as compensation. This marked the first time in Super Bowl history that a team faced its former head coach in the season after his departure.

"We peaked at the right time," said Gruden, whose team became the first in Super Bowl history with three defensive TDs in the same contest. "Our quarterback got healthy. He missed the final two regular season games. When we play together and complement one another, we're a very good team. I think that's what happened tonight."

Gannon finished 24-of-44 for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Jerry Porter and Jerry Rice caught touchdown passes for the Raiders, who were making their first appearance in the title game since beating Washington in the Super Bowl following the 1983 season.

"We just didn't play well and good enough on defense to get it done," said Raiders head coach Bill Callahan. "There were points during the game I thought we were very good. Early on, we played very well on defense. I thought we disrupted the run and pass equally well, made some plays and some turnovers. We just didn't get it done at crunch time."

Tampa Bay outgained Oakland 198-62 in the opening 30 minutes and carried a 20-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. Alstott scored on a two-yard run and McCardell caught a five-yard TD pass from Johnson in the first half.

Oakland got the ball to begin the second half, but was again unable to record a first down and punted back to the Buccaneers, who started the next series from their own 11-yard line.

Tampa Bay then put together a 14-play, 89-yard march for a touchdown that consumed 7:52 of the clock. Johnson was 5-of-6 for 73 yards on the drive and culminated it with an eight-yard TD pass to McCardell that stretched the advantage to 27-3 with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter.

"We talked at halftime about how that first drive was a big one and that we needed to generate a score," said Gannon. "But it turned out we went three and out and then they began to control the clock. That didn't help us, but we kept battling and I'm proud of our team for that. But to play the way we did was disappointing."

The Buccaneers then struck again 43 seconds later when Smith stepped in front of Rice to intercept a Gannon pass and returned it 44 yards untouched for a touchdown to increase the margin to 31 points.

"We overcame that 3-0 deficit and exploded for 34 straight points. I think that says enough," said Gruden, who at 39 became the youngest coach to ever win the Super Bowl.

Oakland answered on its next possession, as Gannon hooked up with Porter on a 39-yard scoring pass. Referees originally ruled that Porter did not have both feet down in the back of the end zone, but the call was reversed after a challenge by the Raiders. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the score was 34-9 with 2:14 left in the third.

Tampa Bay was then forced to punt on its next series and Tom Tupa had the kick blocked by Tim Johnson. Eric Johnson grabbed the ball out of mid-air and ran 13 yards for a touchdown to pull Oakland within 34-15 with 14:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. The two-point try again was unsuccessful.

The Buccaneers squandered a chance for three points on their next possession, as Tupa mishandled the snap on a field goal attempt and Martin Gramatica was forced to cover the ball at the Oakland 22-yard line with just over nine minutes left.

The Raiders proceeded to march 78 yards for a touchdown on eight plays. Gannon concluded the series with a 48-yard scoring toss to Rice that cut the deficit to 34-21 with 6:06 remaining. Gannon then tried to hit Porter for the two- point conversion, but Porter was ruled out of the end zone. Oakland challenged the play, but the call stood and the Raiders were charged with a timeout.

Oakland got the ball back following a punt, but Gannon was intercepted for the fourth time in the game. Brooks did the honor this time and returned the ball 44 yards for the clinching score with 1:18 remaining.

"They couldn't get on a roll because they couldn't stand the pressure," said defensive end Simeon Rice, who had two of Tampa Bay's five sacks. "When you can't stand the pressure, you've got to get out of the kitchen. We put the pressure we needed to put on their offense today and they weren't prepared for what this defense brings."

Smith then accounted for the final score five plays later when he picked off Gannon at midfield and ran the ball back for a touchdown to make it 48-21 with only two seconds left. Smith became the first player in Super Bowl history to return two interceptions for scores in the same game.

"We wanted to dominate this ball game from start to finish," said Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who pulled out a big fat victory cigar after talking at the postgame press conference. "We might have gotten a little loose at times, but there was nothing we couldn't shut off or get this thing under control to finish them off."

Tampa Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball first. On the third play from scrimmage, Brad Johnson was hit by Regan Upshaw as he attempted a pass and the ball was picked off by Charles Woodson near midfield. Woodson returned the interception to the Buccaneers' 36-yard line.

Oakland's offense took over and moved to the 16-yard line, but Gannon was sacked by Rice on a 3rd-and-7 play and the Raiders had to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski and a 3-0 lead with 10:40 left in the opening quarter.

Tampa Bay came right back and tied the score thanks to a nine-play, 58-yard drive, which included consecutive 23-yard gains. On 3rd-and-10 from the Buccaneers' 40-yard line, Brad Johnson hooked up with Joe Jurevicius and the receiver scampered down the right sideline to the Oakland 37-yard line. On the next play, Pittman ran 23 yards to the 14. The Raiders' defense then stiffened and forced a 31-yard field goal by Gramatica with 7:51 remaining in the period.

After a series of punts, Oakland took over at its own 49-yard line with 1:35 left in the first stanza. Gannon was then intercepted by Jackson, who returned the ball nine yards to the Tampa Bay 49-yard line.

The Buccaneers cashed in the turnover, as Gramatica split the uprights from 43 yards out to give Tampa Bay a 6-3 lead with 11:16 remaining in the second quarter.

Jackson made his presence felt again on the ensuing possession, as he again picked off a Gannon pass at the Buccaneers' 30-yard line and returned the ball 25 yards to the Oakland 45. However, the Tampa Bay offense was unable to pick up a first down and Tupa was called upon to punt.

Oakland also failed to advance the ball and punted back to the Buccaneers. Karl Williams fielded the kick and returned the ball 25 yards to the Raiders' 27-yard line.

After runs of six and 19 yards by Pittman, Tampa Bay had 1st-and-goal at the two-yard line. Alstott was stopped for no gain on first down, but was able to power his way into the end zone on second down to extend the advantage to 13-3 with 6:24 left in the period.

The Buccaneers' defense then forced the fourth punt by Shane Lechler and the offense took over at its own 23-yard line. Brad Johnson then engineered a 10- play, 77-yard drive and capped it with a five-yard touchdown pass to McCardell with just 30 seconds remaining in the first half.

Game Notes

Jackson became the third defensive back to capture the MVP award in the Super Bowl (Miami's Jake Scott in Super Bowl VII, Dallas' Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX). Jackson only had three interceptions during the regular season...Brooks had four defensive touchdowns during the regular season...Jerry Rice, who had five catches for 77 yards, established an NFL record with his 22nd postseason touchdown. Thurman Thomas and Emmitt Smith each had 21. Rice also became the oldest player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl (40 years, three months, 13 days)...Pittman rushed for over 100 yards for the first time since October 8, 2000 against Cleveland. He was playing for Arizona at the time...Jurevicius ended with 78 yards on four receptions, while teammate Keyshawn Johnson caught six passes for 69 yards...Oakland starting center Barret Robbins was sent home on Sunday, hours before the big game. Robbins apparently was dismissed for missing several team events and arriving late to the Raiders' last meeting on Saturday night. He was replaced by Adam Treu...The Bucs are the fourth consecutive first-time winners in the Super Bowl, following New England, the Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams. The Bucs are also the eighth franchise to win in their initial Super Bowl appearance...This marked the 10th meeting in the Super Bowl between a top 3 offense and a top 3 defense. Tampa Bay made it the ninth time the defense has won that battle...The 19 yards rushing by Oakland is the third-lowest in Super Bowl history...The Raiders are 3-2 in Super Bowls.