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 Tribune will look back at the corresponding week in the team's 2002 journey and check in with a team representative 10 years later.
Headline: SIMPLY SUPERB
Game summary: The Bucs returned three of their five interceptions against Rich Gannon for touchdowns at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego en route to a dominating performance, claiming an NFL championship in Jon Gruden's first season as head coach.
The NFL's No. 1 defense proved too resolute for the Raiders, whose league-leading attack was limited to 11 first downs and 269 yards. Led by Simeon Rice, the Bucs added five sacks against the league MVP, while Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson was never dropped as he threw for 215 yards, including a pair of short scoring flips to Keenan McCardell.
Bucs safety Dexter Jackson picked off two passes in the opening half to capture Super Bowl MVP honors, and Dwight Smith scored on two second-half interception returns. Linebacker Derrick Brooks, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, ran 44 yards for a touchdown off an interception after Oakland had pulled within 34-21.
Michael Pittman added 144 yards on the ground as Tampa Bay boasted a 150-19 advantage in rushing yards.
62 – Total yards by the Raiders in the opening half as the Bucs led 20-3.
29 – Carries by Michael Pittman, a season high.
10 – Number of interceptions thrown by Gannon during the regular season.
"It was no surprise to me that their defense played well — it carried them all year long.'' — Raiders coach Bill Callahan
"Once we dig a hole for you, we're pretty good at dragging you into it and throwing the dirt on top of you.'' — Bucs DT Warren Sapp
"When you consider where we've come from as an organization, I can't imagine anyone feeling any better than I do right now.'' — Bucs S John Lynch
It's been 10 years since Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer stood at the NFL mountain top and admired the view.
"Every little thing has to go your way,'' Glazer said of Tampa Bay's championship run. "You have to be fortunate on the injury side, you need momentum and you have to take advantage of your opportunities. Sometimes, you see a particular team during a season and you know it's meant to be.''
The only remaining player linked to that 2002 club is Ronde Barber, who was switched from cornerback to safety in his 16th NFL season. If Barber decides to retire, it will be up to a completely new generation of Bucs to recapture past glory.
"You still see the (Warren) Sapp, (John) Lynch, (Derrick) Brooks and (Mike) Alstott jerseys around town,'' Glazer said. "That group of players will never be forgotten.''