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Super Bowl XXXVII

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January 26, 2003, San Diego, California

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21

Before the Game

Playoffs

The Jets squeaked into the playoffs on the last week of the regular season. New York QB Chad Pennington[?], making his playoff debut, threw three touchdowns. His counterpart on the Colts, Peyton Manning[?], was not as spectacular, completing less than half his passes and throwing two interceptions.
The Packers lost at home for the first time in playoff history as Atlanta QB Michael Vick[?] continued his hot streak. The Falcons also blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown and caused five turnovers.
The Steelers, behind journeyman quarterback Tommy Maddox[?], exploded for 22 fourth-quarter points as the Browns suffered one of their famous playoff collapses. A 3-yard touchdown run by Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala[?] with 54 seconds left capped the game-winning 58 yard drive.
The Steelers' comeback earlier in the day was matched by San Francisco's similar late drive. Down 38-14 in the third quarter, the 49ers' offense led by Jeff Garcia fired up, with Tai Streets[?] scoring what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with one minute left. The Giants still had a chance, though, but a botched snap by Trey Junkin[?] on the final play resulted in a field goal attempt turning into a feeble pass play. After the Giants were penalized for having an illegal man downfield on the play, the game ended. But it was revealed the following day that he had checked in as an eligible receiver, and that the Giants should have gotten another chance to win.

The third time was the charm for Titans kicker Joe Nedney[?]. After missing the a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation time, and a second failed kick in overtime was negated because of a roughing-the-kicker penalty on Pittsburgh's Dewayne Washington[?], Nedney won the game from 26 yards out 2:15 into overtime. Steelers coach Bill Cowher[?] was incensed, saying he called a timeout before the winning kick took place. Earlier in the game, the Titans went out to an early 14-0 lead before three turnovers led to Pittsburgh scores, making it 20-14. Two Tennessee touchdowns made it 28-20 by the end of the third quarter, but a 21-yard Hines Ward[?] touchdown and subsequent 2-point conversion tied the game at 28. The teams traded late 4th-quarter field goals to send the game into OT.
The hyped quarterback duel between Donovan McNabb[?] and Michael Vick[?] never materialized, as the Eagles' defense sacked Vick three times and picked him off twice, with Bobby Taylor[?] returning one of those interceptions for a touchdown. A 20-yard touchdown run by Vick in the 3rd quarter was called back for a holding penalty.
Tampa QB Brad Johnson[?], sidelined for a month, returned to throw for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one early interception, as the league's top-ranked defense in 2002 forced five turnovers. San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia was sacked four times as the 49ers would not get into the end zone all day. Fullback Mike Alstott[?] scored two touchdowns for the Bucs.
Chad Pennington[?]'s dream season came to an end as the New York quarterback threw two interceptions and was sacked four times. The Raiders' Rich Gannon[?] threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns as Oakland pulled away from a 10-10 halftime tie to score 20 unanswered second half points.

Tampa Bay won on the road for the first time in playoff history as they advanced to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Eagles' running back Duce Staley[?] opened the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown less than a minute into the game, but the Bucs took over from there. Mike Alstott[?] put Tampa in the lead for good with a touchdown late in the first quarter. The Eagles fumbled twice in the second quarter, and Keyshawn Johnson[?] put the Bucs in the end zone again by halftime. Ronde Barber[?] capped off the win with a 92-yard fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown.
The Raiders made it to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1984, when they were based in Los Angeles. Rich Gannon[?], the league's MVP in 2002, threw three touchdowns and ran in himself for another one. Wide receiver Joey Porter[?] scored first four minutes into the game for Oakland, but the Titans countered with a 33-yard TD pass from Steve McNair[?] to Drew Bennett[?] tied it up five minutes later. The Raiders went in the lead to stay when Charlie Garner[?] caught another touchdown pass late in the first quarter. All but abandoning the run for the first three quarters, Oakland scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground to seal the victory.

The Game

The Raiders were favored to win their first Super Bowl in 19 years during the lead-up to the game. However, Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden[?], who coached the Raiders until 2001, was thought to still have an idea of what Oakland's game plans would be, and the game turned into a blowout. The fact that Raiders' center Barrett Robbins[?] went missing for most of the week and ended up in the hospital did not help the team either.

Raiders' quarterback Rich Gannon[?] threw a Super Bowl record five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Bucs safety Dexter Jackson[?], who had two of those interceptions, was named MVP. Dwight Smith[?] also had two interceptions for Tampa Bay.

The Raiders took an early 3-0 lead after Charles Woodson[?] returned an interception by Tampa quarterback Brad Johnson[?] to the Bucs' 36-yard line. Sebastian Janikowski[?] kicked a 40-yard field goal seven plays later to open the scoring.

The Buccaneers came back to tie the game on the next drive on a 31-yard field goal by Martin Grammatica[?], and then took the lead on another Grammatica field goal (from 43 yards) early in the second quarter. Shortly afterward, Tampa Bay then scored their first touchdown, a 2-yard run by fullback Mike Alstott[?]. Another touchdown by wide receiver Keenan McCardell[?] put Tampa Bay up 20-3 at halftime.

McCardell scored a second touchdown to open the scoring in the third quarter. 43 seconds later, Dwight Smith returned a Rich Gannon interception 44 yards for yet another touchdown.

Oakland finally got in the end zone late in the third quarter when Jerry Porter[?] caught a 39-yard pass in stride. After initially being ruled out of bounds, it was determined that Porter had one foor in the end zone and used it to drag the other foot out. The two-point conversion failed, so the Raiders were still down 34-9. The Raiders scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the first when a Tom Tupa[?] punt was blocked and returned by Eric Johnson, and the second on a 48-yard pass to Jerry Rice[?]. In both cases, Oakland went for two points and could not convert. The score was now 34-21.

At this point, the Raiders had visions of a miraculous combeback, but that was thwarted when Derrick Brooks[?] returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown with 1:18 to play in the game. The victory for Tampa Bay was sealed when Dwight Smith scored on another interception return with two seconds left.



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