What to look for: Oakland offense
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 1:01 a.m.
This is the marquee matchup: The NFL's top-rated offense (Oakland) against the top-rated defense (Tampa Bay). It's the first time that's happened in a Super Bowl.
FYI: The Oakland Raiders
SEASON IN REVIEW:
Raiders led league in total offense (389.8 yards per game), yards passing (279.7) and scored 450 points, second most in NFL. ... Raiders offense allowed 36 sacks in regular season, while Bucs allowed 41. Raiders WR Jerry Rice led NFL's No. 1 offense in receptions (92) and yards receiving (1,211), along with seven TDs. Rice owns Super Bowl record with seven career TDs. Raiders defense ranked No. 3 in NFL vs. rush (90.8 yards per game). ... Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski scored 128 points and led all kickers with 22 touchbacks on kickoffs in regular season. ... Raiders called exactly one running play in first three quarters of AFC championship game. ... This is the third Super Bowl to be played in San Diego.
- Compiled from Sun wire reports
Under first-year coach Bill Callahan, the Raiders threw more passes than any team except St. Louis - 38.7 a game. Quarterback Rich Gannon (12) won the NFL's MVP award, throwing for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns. His targets include 40-year-old Jerry Rice (80) and 36-year-old Tim Brown (81) as well as Jerry Porter (84), who gives them fresh legs and a deep threat. Charlie Garner (25) was the team's leading rusher and was second in receptions with 91 catches, one fewer than Rice. Rookie tight end Doug Jolley (88) has given Gannon a fifth receiving option. Randy Jordan (28) can be productive as a third-down back and both Tyrone Wheatley (47) and Zack Crockett (32) are productive in short-yardage situations.
One reason for all the passing is a huge offensive line led by right tackle Lincoln Kennedy (79) and center Barret Robbins (63), one of the best pass protection units in the league. All five starters weigh more than 300 pounds, with Kennedy the heaviest at 335. But Gannon's short drops, quick release and mobility help him avoid getting hit a lot.
The Raiders will encounter the NFL's quickest defense, one that shut down scramblers Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Linebacker Derrick Brooks (55) was the NFL's defensive player of the year, scoring four TDs, three on interception returns and one on a fumble. Shelton Quarles (53) is one of the NFL's quickest middle linebackers. End Simeon Rice (97) led the NFC in sacks with 15 1/2, and tackle Warren Sapp (99) has been one of the NFL's top interior defensive linemen for the past half-dozen years.
But the secondary may be the real strength of the defense, which held opponents to 12.3 points a game. Cornerback Ronde Barber (20) dominated the NFC championship game against Philadelphia and capped it with a 92-yard INT return. Brian Kelly (25), the other cornerback, tied for the league lead in INTs with eight. Strong safety John Lynch (47) is the best in the league at his position, a ferocious run-stopper.
As far as intangibles, the biggest one - history - has to be on the Oakland's side. The Raiders were one of the elite teams through the 1960s and '70s, and have three Super Bowl victories, the last in 1984. Since then, they have been up and down, slightly above .500, but certainly not at the bottom.
The Bucs, created in 1976, lost the first 26 games they played, got to the NFC championship game in 1979 and then crashed.
Meet the Raiders
Set NFL record with 418 completions, including record 21 straight vs. Denver. ... Also had league-high 4,689 yards passing, threw for 26 TDs and had only 10 INTs. ... Threw for three TDs last week.
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