What to look for: Tampa Bay offense
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 1:37 a.m.
The Tampa Bay offense has always been an afterthought to the defense. Even with the arrival of offensive-minded head coach Jon Gruden, it still ranked 24th of 32 teams. But it's been able to produce points when needed, particularly when quarterback Brad Johnson (14) has been healthy. He's an efficient passer with tall targets - wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson (19), Keenan McCardell (87) and Joe Jurevicius (83), whose only catch in the NFC championship game was a 71-yard play that gave the Bucs momentum they never lost. Tight ends Ken Dilger (85) and Rickey Dudley (85) are also big targets, although none of the receivers has great breakaway speed.
FYI: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers are 5-7 in the postseason in franchise history, while Raiders are 25-17 (including 3-1 in Super Bowls). ... Tampa Bay led NFL in total defense and allowed league-low 196 points, fifth fewest since 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978. ... Bucs led league with 31 INTs and tied for first in turnover differential at plus-17. Raiders were one of five teams with fewer than 20 giveaways (19), and had plus-12 differential. ... Bucs QB Brad Johnson, 54-31 as starter, set franchise single-season records with 22 TD passes, 62.3 completion percentage (281-of-451).
- Compiled from Sun wire reports
The running game is deceptive. Michael Pittman (32) led the team with 718 yards rushing but Mike Alstott (40), gets the key yardage. The Bucs ran for only 49 yards against the Eagles, but Alstott had several big short-yardage plays.
The offensive line was a problem early but has improved late, especially left tackle Roman Oben (72), a journeyman who seems finally to have matured in his seventh season. The rest of the line has protected the quarterback well, but it isn't the best run-blocking unit in the league.
The Raiders' defense has been rebuilt almost from scratch. Key acquisitions were defensive tackles Sam Adams (95) and John Parrella (97), who have solidified the run defense. DeLawrence Grant (99) and Rod Coleman (57) are the defensive ends, but the Raiders use a rotation system that also includes Chris Cooper (75) and Regan Upshaw (91).
The linebacking has been upgraded with youngsters, especially rookie middle linebacker Napoleon Harris (58) and first-year starter Eric Barton (50), who added speed to what was a sluggish unit. But the key newcomer is 15-year veteran Bill Romanowski (53) who has four Super Bowl rings, two each with Denver and San Francisco. At 36, Romanowski brings experience and fire to the defense, and if the Raiders win, he will tie Charles Haley, formerly of the 49ers and Cowboys, with five Super Bowl victories.
The other veteran is free safety Rod Woodson (26) who at 37 had his best season in nearly a decade, tying Kelly for the league lead in interceptions. He has helped the other five DBs who play a lot - cornerbacks Charles Woodson (24), Tory James (20) and Terrence Shaw (22) and safeties Anthony Dorsett (33). Woodson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL when healthy.
Meet the Bucs
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