Super Bowl Lookback
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 23, Panthers 10
Headline: Top of the Heap
Game summary: The Bucs achieved the first 8-2 start in franchise history, assuming first place in the NFC South with a stellar defensive effort in Tampa. DE Simeon Rice posted his third consecutive two-sack game and forced a fumble recovered by Warren Sapp as Tampa Bay registered four sacks and four takeaways. Brad Johnson threw for 253 yards, including scoring passes to Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell, and Martin Gramatica added three field goals. Carolina was blanked after Rodney Peete found Steve Smith early for a 20-yard score.
93 – Total yards by Carolina in the second half
74 – Receiving yards by Key-shawn Johnson on seven catches
3 – Interceptions thrown by Panthers QB Rodney Peete
He said it
"We control our own destiny now."
— Bucs DT Warren Sapp
"Their defense is fantastic."
— Panthers C Jeff Mitchell
"We still have a lot of work to do offensively."
— Bucs coach Jon Gruden
Back to the future
When Roman Oben signed a one-year deal with the Bucs in May 2002, he hardly imagined he'd end up protecting Brad Johnson's blind side during a championship season.
The veteran left tackle started all 16 regular-season games and played a critical role as Johnson was sacked only once in the playoffs.
"Now that it's been 10 seasons since we won the Super Bowl, it gets a little more special each year," said Oben, who played one more season in Tampa before finishing his NFL career in San Diego. "I was one of many guys brought in on offense that offseason to challenge our defense every day in practice. As the year went on, field goals became touchdowns and we were mad if we didn't go 80 yards on every drive."
Born in Cameroon, West Africa, Oben is now living in the New York area. He is a football analyst and oversees the Roman Oben Foundation, dedicated to promoting youth development through football and literacy.
"You could tell Tampa Bay fans had cautious optimism that year," said Oben, who also has taken an active role in local politics. "When I arrived, the Bucs had made a lot of Pro Bowls, but they hadn't won anything. I had been to Cleveland and, for two years, I watched (Eagles defensive end) Hugh Douglas destroy the Bucs in the playoffs. I felt I could help them get past Philly — and we did."