Ten years ago, the Buccaneers embarked on a special season — one that ended with team members hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as champions of Super Bowl XXXVII. To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the franchise's crowning achievement, each week this season, The Tampa Tribune will look back at the corresponding week in the team's 2002 journey and check in with a team member 10 years later.
Bucs 38, Vikings 24
Headline: Making a Point
Game summary: After missing the previous game with a fractured rib, quarterback Brad Johnson returned with a vengeance, throwing for 313 yards and a career-high five TD passes as Tampa Bay improved to 7-2. The Bucs rolled up 446 yards and 27 first downs in a well-balanced attack, grabbing a 24-0 advantage by scoring on their first four possessions at Raymond James Stadium. Aaron Stecker's 59-yard run keyed a 133-yard ground game, while Keyshawn Johnson led the aerial assault with nine catches for 133 yards, including two TDs. Simeon Rice posted two sacks for the second consecutive week and Tampa Bay forced three turnovers.
114 – Rushing yards by Minnesota's Michael Bennett, including a franchise-record 85-yard TD run
256 – Total yards by the Bucs in the opening half en route to a 24-10 lead
0 – Sacks by the Vikings against Johnson, who completed 24 of 31 pass attempts.
He said it
"Today was an indication of what this team is capable of with everyone working on all cylinders."
— Bucs LT Roman Oben
"Today proves that good things happen when you give Brad Johnson some time to throw."
— Bucs C Jeff Christy
"We are going to work hard to become not a good offense, but a great offense. It's a hard thing to do. My wife has been working on our house for nine months and it's not even close to being finished yet. I feel that way about our offense."
— Bucs coach Jon Gruden
Back to the future
Brad Johnson enjoyed a Pro Bowl season under center for the Bucs in 2002, overcoming health issues to become the first quarterback in team history to lead the NFC in passing.
Johnson threw 22 touchdown passes and only six picks during the regular season, then added 670 passing yards and five touchdown throws in the postseason.
"Somebody usually asks me about that championship year every day," said Johnson, singled out a decade later by head coach Jon Gruden as Tampa Bay's team MVP in 2002. "It might be a little kid or it might be a grown-up, but the subject comes up all the time."
Despite rib and back injuries that forced him to miss three games, Johnson threw for 3,049 yards in 2002 while guiding an offense that became more productive as the season progressed.
"We didn't give up sacks or turnovers and we grew as an offensive unit," Johnson said. "We had a lot of new players on offense, and chemistry had to be built. I remember all the work we put into it and all the enthusiasm we had that year. It was a special group of guys with one goal in mind — to win a championship. That kind of team continues to live with you, even 10 years later."