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.

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Oakland runningback Charlie Garner, above, and the Raiders' offense has posted 71 points in two postseason games for a 35.5-point average. They picked up where they left off in the regular season, where they were ranked No. 1 overall. Today, they face a Buccaneers' defense that has allowed just 16 points in their two playoff games. The two teams did not meet in the regular season.

(AP Photo)

Facts

FYI: The Oakland Raiders

SEASON IN REVIEW:

  • Sept. 8 Seahawks W, 31-17
  • Sept. 15 Steelers W, 30-17
  • Sept. 29 Titans W, 52-25
  • Oct. 6 Bills W, 49-31
  • Oct. 13 Rams L, 28-13
  • Oct. 20 Chargers L, 27-21
  • Oct. 27 Chiefs L, 20-10
  • Nov. 3 49ers L, 23-20
  • Nov. 11 Broncos W, 34-10
  • Nov. 17 Patriots W, 27-20
  • Nov. 24 Cardinals W, 41-20
  • Dec. 2 Jets W, 26-20
  • Dec. 8 Chargers W, 27-7
  • Dec. 15 Dolphins L, 23-17
  • Dec. 22 Broncos W, 28-16
  • Dec. 28 Chiefs W, 24-0

    INJURY REPORT:
  • OUT: TE Marcus Williams (ankle).
  • QUESTIONABLE: LB Eric Barton (leg); C Barret Robbins (foot); CB Charles Woodson (leg).
  • PROBABLE: CB Tory James (leg); S Rod Woodson (wrist).

    EXTRA POINTS:
    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

  • Rich Gannon (12), QB, 6-3, 210, 15th year, Delaware. NFL's MVP.

    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.

  • Charlie Garner (25), RB, 5-10, 190, ninth year, Tennessee. Versatile all-around back who is most dangerous on screens and passes in the flat. ... Rushed for 962 yards, had 5.3 average per rush. ... Second on team with 91 catches. ... Scored 11 TDs. ... Played for the Eagles and 49ers as well.

  • Jerry Rice (80), WR, 6-2, 200, 18th year, Mississippi Valley State. NFL's all-time leading receiver in virtually every category. ... Led team with 92 receptions for 1,211 yards and seven TDs. ... Still dynamic at age 40, especially on slants. ... Already has three Super Bowl rings with 49ers. ... Still starts despite the emergence of Jerry Porter.

  • Tim Brown (81), WR, 6-0, 195, 15th year, Notre Dame. Longest-tenured Raider, he finally got to Super Bowl. ... Had 81 catches for 11.5 average and two TDs. ... Also returns punts. ... His wife is expecting to deliver twins Monday. ... He leads the Raiders in receiving this postseason.

  • Frank Middleton (73), LG, 6-4, 330, sixth year, Arizona. Former Buccaneer known as much for his talking as his blocking. ... Joined Oakland as free agent in 2001. ... Huge presence on line, one of better pass protectors. ... Will get to see lots of Warren Sapp, a former teammate who can talk as much.

  • Lincoln Kennedy (72), RT, 6-6, 335, 10th year, Washington. San Diego native comes off best season of career, making All-Pro team. ... A team leader. ... Might need to help a bit in blocking Sapp. ... Among best run blockers in the league for years. ... One of the nation's top limeman while he was a Huskie.

  • Doug Jolley (88), TE, 6-4, 250, first year, Brigham Young. Rookie who took over as starter when Roland Williams was injured. ... Gannon has gained confidence in him lately. ... Had 32 catches for a 12.8 average and two scores. ... Better receiver than blocker. ... Caught a touchdown last week in the AFC title game vs. Tennessee.

  • Barry Sims (65), LT, 6-5, 300, fourth year, Utah. Started all but one game this season. ... Played in NFL Europe after not being drafted out of college. ... Became starter in sixth NFL game in 1999. ... One of the leaders of an offensive line that paves the way for the league's No. 1 offense.

  • Sam Adams (95), DT, 6-3, 330, eighth year, Texas A&M. Won Super Bowl ring with Baltimore two years ago. ... Massive run stuffer in middle of line, he occupies blockers to free teammates. ... Joined Raiders as free agent before season after a lengthy period in which he was courted by several teams.

  • Bill Romanowski (53), OLB, 6-4, 245, 15th year, Boston College. Has won four Super Bowl rings, two with Denver, two with San Francisco. ... Hits hard, sometimes late, doesn't mind reputation as dirty player. ... Very active for a 36-year-old with a lot of wear. ... Signed as free agent last year after leaving the Broncos.

  • Charles Woodson (24), CB, 6-1, 200, fifth year, Michigan. When healthy, he's one of the best, but injuries have slowed him this season. ... Might be weakest link in secondary because he is not 100 percent. ... Had only one interception during season, in Week 2. ... Missed seven games with leg injury that forced him out of some practices this week.

  • Tory James (20), CB, 6-2, 190, seventh year, LSU. Returned from leg injury to play extremely well in postseason. ... Will gamble, but often it pays off. ... Had four INTs, made 46 tackles. ... Might get matched up a lot with Keyshawn Johnson, the Buccaneers leading receiver during the regular and postseason.

  • Anthony Dorsett (33), SS, 5-11, 205, seventh year, Pittsburgh. Son of Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. ... Not great in coverage, but hits hard. ... Takes too many penalties. ... Has improved with Rod Woodson next to him. ... WIll play in his second Super Bowl. Made Super Bowl debut as a Tennessee Titan in 2000.

  • Rod Woodson (26), FS, 6-0, 205, 15th year, Purdue. One of the best defensive backs in league history. ... Signed as free agent last year and made All-Pro team. ... Smart, active, hard to fool. ... Still a terrific athlete at 37. ... Will play in his third Super Bowl. Lost with the Steelers in 1996, won with the Ravens in 2001.

  • Sebastian Janikowski (11), PK, 6-2, 255, third year, Florida State. Coach Bill Callahan says Janikowski has matured significantly this year. ... Strong leg, led NFL with 22 touchbacks. ... His 128 points were second in team history. ... Won the national championship in 2000.

  • Shane Lechler (9), P, 6-2, 225, third year, Texas A&M. Strong-legged kicker who had a 42.5 average this season.

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