Top defense topples top offense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, once the class clown of the NFL, attended and then won their first Super Bowl in franchise history, making the Oakland Raiders and their highly touted offense look like a joke.
Sunday's match-up, a game that pitted the NFL's highest rated regular season offense (Raiders) against the highest rated defense (Buccaneers) for the first time in history, resulted in a lopsided 48-21 win for Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers' defense stole the show, coming up with five sacks and intercepting five passes thrown by league MVP and Raiders' quarterback, Rich Gannon. Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson accounted for two of the interceptions.
The Raiders staged a late second half comeback that produced a blocked punt run back for a touchdown and a 48-yard touchdown reception by Jerry Rice. After failing to make two previous two-point conversion attempts, the Raiders tried yet another in hopes of cutting the lead to 11 and essentially turn the competition into a two-possession game. A questionable call turned the Raiders away empty-handed, however, and the team would pull no closer the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay's offense surprised Oakland by coming up with several big plays. Quarterback Brad Johnson, formerly of the Washington Redskins, threw for two touchdowns and one interception while Michael Pittman kicked the team's running game into high-gear by rushing for 124 yards.
Despite putting the first three points on the board after an interception by Charles Woodson, Oakland's offense was missing in action for most of the first half. The Raiders entered halftime trailing 20-3. Veterans Tim Brown and Rice, both future hall-of-famers, joined Gannon in a disappearing act that lasted well into the third quarter. Brown had just one reception for 9 yards the entire game.
The game was billed by some as the Gruden Bowl as Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden had coached the Raiders the previous season. Apparently Gruden knew his old team well because his new team came out prepared for everything the Raiders tried to do. "Every play they've run, we've run in practice," commented Tampa Bay's defensive standout, John Lynch, during the game.
Some information compiled from AP.
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KC Costanzo. Keith "KC" Costanzo is one of the brand-spanking-new editors-in-chief of <i>Silver Chips Online</i>. His responsibilities include maintaining the journalistic integrity of the paper and making sure no one spontaneously combusts due to the stress of deadlines. KC enjoys late night frisbee games and long hours … More »