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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

16 years ago Saturday the Bucs became Super Bowl Champs

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

They destroyed Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and the Steve Mariucci led-49ers 31-6 in the NFC Divisional playoff game at home. Then, 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 just over two 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 the Bucs were back on their heels early, as QB Brad Johnson threw an 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, twice, intercepting Raiders QB Rich Gannon on back to back possessions in the first half. Jackson would later named Super Bowl MVP.

Legendary fullback Mike Alstott scored the first Bucs TD in Super Bowl history on a two yard run. And, Johnson later threw a five yard TD pass to WR Kennan McCardell late in the second quarter making the game 20-3 Tampa Bay at halftime.

The Buccaneers came out strong to start the third quarter taking the opening kick and marching 89 yards in 14 plays. Johnson hooked up with McCardell, again, for another score and a commanding 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 another quick TD to make it 34-3.

Essentially, game over.

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, sort of, as Gannon hit Jerry Porter on a 39 yard TD in the third quarter. They then blocked a Tom Tupa punt for another TD, and when Gannon hit Hall of Famer Jerry Rice from 48 yards out, it was quickly 34-21.

But the Raiders, they 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 Tampa Bay “pick six” in the final 10 seconds to finish the scoring and start the official celebration.

Gannon’s five interceptions were 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, fellow Hall of Famer 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 Champs.

It’s the last time that any Florida team has made, much less won, the NFL’s biggest game.

And, it happened 16 years ago Saturday, in San Diego.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.

Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.

Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.

One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.

Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.

Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.

Then, after halftime,  the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.

Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone  twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.

Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.

However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.

Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs in London leads our Sunday NFL primer

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For one of the rare times this season, all three state NFL teams are in action on Sunday early and one of them very early.

First stop, the Buccaneers rematch the Panthers. This time in London at the newly rebuilt Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Bucs come off of a tough loss 31-24 in New Orleans last week, but do have a win in week two at Carolina 20-14.

In that game, Tampa Bay’s defense took advantage of an injured quarterback Cam Newton and also stuffed running back Christian McCaffrey on their way to a division road win. Newton has been replaced the last three weeks by backup Kyle Allen and he has lead them to three consecutive victories, including road wins at Arizona and Houston.

Meanwhile, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (photo above) will try to ignite his connection with receiver Mike Evans, the Pro Bowler was held without a catch in last week’s loss at the Superdome.

Next up, the Jaguars will host those Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville has performed well with rookie 6th round pick quarterback Gardner Minshew leading them That includes a week ago in Charlotte, as Minshew threw for two more touchdowns in a narrow 34-27 loss to the Panthers. Minshew is 2-2 in his starts.

Also, third year running back Leonard Fournette has rounded into form with back-to-back good games including over 100 yards and his first touchdown of the season in a loss to the Panthers.

The Saints come in with three consecutive victories under backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who riddled the Buccaneers for four touchdowns last week. The Saints top target is wide receiver Michael Thomas and it’s unknown, whether Jaguars football defensive back Jalen Ramsey will be healthy enough/active to cover him in this game.

Finally, in Miami it’s a pair of winless teams, as the 0-5 Redskins visit the 0-4 Dolphins. Washington fired their coach Jay Gruden earlier in the week and replaced him with veteran assistant and former Raiders head coach, Bill Callahan.

Meanwhile, first-year coach Brian Flores and the Fins come out of a bye week with a chance at extra preparation in looking for their first win of the season. Flores maintained this week that second-year quarterback Josh Rosen has the starting job, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future.

In their last game two weeks ago, Rosen led a touchdown drive that actually gave Miami their first and only leader of the season at 10-6 against the Chargers However, L.A outplayed them in the second half to keep Miami without a victory.

Both of these teams have looked poor through much of the first part of the year, but one of them will get to celebrate, at least in the short term, with a Sunday win.

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