Super Bowl XXXVII — Raiders and Buccaneers

By Ron Griffitts
Contributing Columnist

Super Bowl XXXVII took place on Jan. 26, 2003, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego between the Oakland Raiders (13-6) coached by Bill Callahan and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15-4) coached by Jon Gruden.

The Raiders were still owned by legendary AFL founding member Al Davis who had been with the Raiders since 1963 and had as their offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, Chuck Bresnaham as their defensive coordinator and Jim Harbaugh as their quarterbacks’ coach.

Quarterback Rich Gannon passed for 4,689 yards, 26 touchdowns and Charlie Garner rushed for 962 yards, 7 TDs, caught passes for 941 yards, 4 TDs, for 1,913 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage.

Gannon’s leading receivers were 40-year-old Jerry Rice playing in his 19th NFL season with 1,211 yards for 7 touchdowns and Tim Brown who had 930 yards, 2 touchdowns. Field goal kicker Sebastian Janikowski converted on 26 of 37 attempts.

The defense was anchored by linebacker Eric Barton (127 combined tackles, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions), Broderick Coleman (11 Sacks) and Rod Woodson (82 combined tackles, 8 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries).

The Buccaneers offensive coordinator was Bill Muir, their defensive coordinator was Monte Kiffin, Jay Gruden was an offensive assistant and Mike Tomlin the defensive backs’ coach.

Their leading passer was Brad Johnson (3,049 yards, 22 TDs), and their leading rushers were Micheal Pittman (718 yards, 1 TD, 477 receiving yards, 1,195 yards from scrimmage, 1 TD) and fullback Mike Alstott ( 790 all-purpose yards, 7 TDs).

The leading receivers were Keyshawn Johnson (1,088 yards, 5 TDs) and Keenan McCardell (670 yards, 5 TDs) while kicker Martin Gramatica converted on 32 of 39 field goal attempts.

The game started slowly as Sabastian Janikowski kicked a 40-yard field goal with 10:44 left in the first quarter and at 7:55 left in the quarter Martin Gramatica converted on a 31-yard field goal and the score was tied 3-3 after one quarter.

Tampa Bay broke the game open in the second quarter with another Gramatica field goal and a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Alstott and a five-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Keenan McCardell and the score at the half was 20-3 in favor of the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay scored on another Brad Johnson pass of eight yards to Keenan McCardell for a touchdown and four plays later Dwight Smith intercepted a Rich Gannon pass intended for Jerry Rice and returned it 44 yards for their second touchdown in one minute and 20 seconds for a 34-3 lead.

Rich Gannon completed a TD pass to Terry Porter for 39 yards and a score for the Raiders first TD of the game but didn’t get the two point conversion and the score was 34-9.

The Raiders got a break early in the fourth quarter as Tim Johnson blocked Tom Tupa’s punt and it was recovered and returned for a touchdown by Eric Johnson to make the score 34-15.

The Raiders scored again on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Gannon to Jerry Rice to pull the Raiders to 34-21 score but two more Tampa Bay interceptions returned for touchdowns — one by Derrick Brooks returned for 44 yards and one by Dwight Smith (his second of the game) returned for 50 yards — made the final 48-21.

Without the turnovers converted into touchdowns the game would have been fairly close. Gannon threw five interceptions and Dexter Jackson, who caught two of those interceptions, was named the game’s MVP.

The Raiders have not been back to a Super Bowl while Tampa Bay returned earlier this year with Tom Brady at the helm.

Mike Tomlin went to become the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers where he is in his 15th season there and led the team to a Super Bowl win in 2008.

Other assistants at Tampa Bay that went on to be head coaches in the NFL are Jay Gruden, Raheem Morris, Rod Marinillia, and Rich Biraccia who is presently the interim head coach for the Los Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders head coach Bill Callahan is now the offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Jim Harbaugh from the Raiders staff went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers including a Super Bowl appearance in 2012 and is now the coach of the Michigan Wolverines.

Statistics for this article came from football-reference.com.

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.