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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

15 years ago Friday, Buccaneers won the Super Bowl

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

It is the signature moment in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. January 26th, 2003 in San Diego, CA, the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21 over the Oakland Raiders.

After having been viewed as mostly a punch line franchise for their first 27 years of existence, the Bucs finally put together a tremendous regular season (12-4) and finished it off with an amazing playoff run.

Having destroyed Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and the Steve Mariucci led-49ers 31-6 in the NFC Divisional playoff game at home, the Buccaneers traveled to play the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb Eagles at the old “Vet” in Philly for the NFC Championship.

The Eagles had been the Bucs nemisis, not only beating Tampa Bay in that regular season of 2002, but having knocked them out of the playoffs the previous two seasons, as well.

When, it was all said and done, the Buccaneers defense dominated that day. And, when Ronde Barber intercepted McNabb with about three minutes remaining, and raced 92 yards for the clinching TD in a 27-10 win, the Bucs had reservations for the NFL’s biggest game.

Seven days later (it was one of the last times the NFL has not taken two weeks off before the Super Bowl) the Buccaneers were on the field with their new coach, Jon Gruden, against his old team, the Raiders.

And after a shaky start, it was all Pewter and Red over the Silver and Black. Here’s a quick highlight montage’:

You may not remember that Bucs QB Brad Johnson threw an early interception to Charles Woodson and the Raiders kicked a field goal to lead 3-0.

What you likely remember was Bucs safety Dexter Jackson returned the favor X 2 and intercepted Raiders QB Rich Gannon twice in the first half. Jackson was later named Super Bowl MVP.

FB Mike Alstott scored the first Bucs TD in Super Bowl history, and Johnson later threw a five yard TD pass to WR Kennan McCardell and the game was 20-3 Tampa Bay at half time.

The Buccaneers came out strong to start the third quarter taking the opening kick and marching 89 yards in 14 plays and eventually, Johnson hooked up with McCardell, again, for a 27-3 lead.

Then, the clinching moment came for Tampa Bay’s illustrious defense, as DB Dwight Smith stepped in front of Gannon’s pass on the left sideline and raced 44 yards for a TD to make it 34-3.

The crowd of 60-70% Raiders fans in Sand Diego was stunned. And the Bucs, were ready to party.

Yes, the Raiders actually did make a game of it, as Gannon hit Jerry Porter on a 39 yard TD in the third quarter. They blocked a Tom Tupa punt for another TD, and when Gannon hit Hall of Famer, Jerry Rice from 48 yards out, it was now 34-21.

But the Raiders, would get no closer, and when, Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks picked Gannon for the fourth time and headed 44 yards to the end zone, the deal was done.

Dwight Smith added yet another pick six, his second of the game, in the final 30 seconds to finish the scoring and start the official celebration.

Gannon’s five interceptions was a dubious record and the Buccaneers remain the only Super Bowl winning team to score three defensive touchdowns in the game.

For players like Brooks, Warren Sapp and John Lynch it was the culmination of coming a team in disarray in the mid-90’s and helping it eventually, become World Champions.

It’s the last time that a Florida team has made, much less won, the NFL’s biggest game, and it happened 15 years ago Friday, in San Diego.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Final injury updates for Bucs and Jaguars Sunday games

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers get set to head to New York to play the Giants and the Jaguars are preparing to host the Steelers Sunday, it’s time to take a look at the injuries in those two games. (Reminder the Dolphins have their bye week for this weekend.)

Here’s a look at the latest:

For the Bucs, there Friday injury report has defensive names littered all over it and the news is not good for some of them.

After we were told by a source that Lavonte David was going to try to play Sunday, he apparently was overruled by the training staff and head coach Dirk Koetter, etc, and the Pro Bowl linebacker will be inactive with his sprained knee. Likewise, Vinny Curry will miss another game at defensive end, his fourth in the last five with a sprained ankle.

It’s the same situation with second year safety Justin Evans, who will miss the game with an injured toe suffered in the game with Washington last week. Defensive end Carl Nassib, who’s been a pleasant find off the waiver wire at the beginning of the season,  is questionable with a left elbow injury suffered agains the Redskins, although he was able to practice on Friday.

The Bucs also list their receiver Chris Godwin as questionable with an ankle injury, and another important injury is starting center Ryan Jensen, who’s questionable with a hamstring injury. If Jensen is unable to play Sunday, then Ali Marpet, starting at left guard this year, but who played center a lot of 2017, would likely take his place.

The Buccaneers opponents, the Giants, had four players on their injury list this week, but all of them are now slated to play in the game on Sunday.

For the Jaguars match-up, they have two significant injuries to update, starting linebacker Telvin Smith was able to practice this week with his shoulder injury and is listed as questionable, but expected to play against Pittsburgh. There is concern for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury and he is also listed as questionable. Dareus will likely be a game time decision.

Defensive back A.J. Bouye has been bothered by a calf injury, but he is also expected to play after being able to practice Thursday and Friday and listed as questionable. Coach Doug Marrone also announced that tackle Erik Flowers, who left last week’s game with tendonitis in his knee will start on the makeshift Jaguars line.

As we wrote earlier in the week, Jacksonville placed Center Brandon Linder on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered in last week’s lost Indianapolis.

The Steelers have no significant injuries, despite Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner both being on the injured list,. They will both be playing on Sunday. Connor was a much bigger concern having been in concussion protocol earlier after suffering one in the win last Thursday night over Carolina.

However, he cleared the protocol and was able to fully practice this week.

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Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul ready to go get Eli Manning Sunday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one of those juicy subplots that we see all the time now in professional sports. A player gets to go against his old team and show them that maybe they made a mistake and letting him go. In this case on Sunday, Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will battle against his old team, the New York Giants. And that means, against a lot of former teammates.

One in specific, quarterback Eli Manning, maybe less than thrilled.

JPP has been one of the most dominant edge rushers in the NFL over the last decade, nevertheless, the Giants elected to trade into the Buccaneers back in March.

So when the organization that you won the Superbowl with in 2011 has decided to move on without you, there’s naturally going to be some questions from the media about you playing against them for the first time. And, you going against their borderline Hall of Fame signal-caller, Manning.

Such was the case Wednesday in the Buccaneers locker room prior to practice:

Pierre-Paul has already energized the Bucs pass rush and has eight sacks in the first nine games. This includes a streak of five consecutive games with a sack earlier this season. That is the first time since Simeon rice in 2002 that a Buccaneer had five straight games with a sack in a single season.

And coming into Sunday at The Meadowlands he has 66 1/2 of them in his career and would love nothing better than to take down the leader of the G-Men.

And while the Giants did look better on offense in their Monday night comeback win over the 49ers, it has clearly been a struggle for them to pass protect, specifically, throughout the early part of this season.

Pierre-Paul has to have been salivating watching their offensive line whiff and get run over in game after game.

Further, Buccaneer defenders like pro bowlers Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, plus players like Will gholston Brent Grimes and young safety Justin Evans went against Manning in a Tampa Bay’s win last September against the Giants.

A game that the Buccaneers squeaked out 25-23. A game where is Eli Manning threw it 49 times and wasn’t sacked once by the Buccaneers front seven. That’s a pass rush that was last in the NFL in sacks a year ago.

However, that was 2017. And, circling back to Pierre-Paul, he hopes to change that starting Sunday.

And, while it will be weird for him to dress in the visiting dressing room at MetLife Stadium and stand on the visiting near sidelines, he’s ready to put all of that aside, try to help the Bucs climb off the canvas and get a win in the Big Apple.

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What is status of Bucs LB LaVonte David’s injured knee?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough enough last seven games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now comes word that another prominent defender may miss this week’s match-up with the Giants. A report Tuesday afternoon said that linebacker Lavonte David has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and his status is in doubt. That may not be the case, though. More on that in a moment.

First, Jenna Laine, the ESPN reporter for the Bucs, reported Tuesday afternoon about David’s injury from Sunday:

David was injured in the third quarter of Sunday’s lost to the Redskins, while making a tackle. He was examined underneath the “mysterious blue tent” and was initially diagnosed as being questionable to return to the game. He did return and played in the fourth quarter of the 16-3 loss to Washington.

And, a source with knowledge of David situation told F.F.I. on Monday that David had been examined, and it was not believed to be a serious injury. Further, the source told us that David would wear a knee brace this week in practice and be able to play in the game on Sunday.

The seven year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler is one of the key players on the Buccaneers defense and currently has 71 tackles with nine of them for losses. And he’s being counted on more heavily after Pro Bowl middle linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his ACL in an October game with Cleveland and will miss the rest of the season.

The Bucs have also seen starters in the defensive backfield Vernon Hargreaves and Chris Conte already placed on injured reserve back in September. Also Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy missed two games with a calf strain and has not looked a hundred percent in the last two games with Carolina and Washington since coming back from the injury.

If David is unable to play or is limited on Sunday, the Bucs will count more heavily on reserve linebacker Devante Bond. Bond has seen more playing time after Alexander’s injury and will be asked to increase his responsibilities in the middle of the Buccaneers defense, as well.

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