SUPER BOWL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Jackson puts in MVP showing


Published: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 1:50 a.m.

SAN DIEGO - When Dexter Jackson played high school football he was a highly recruited all-state quarterback. He became defensive back in college at Florida State and that led to him being the MVP of Sunday's Super Bowl.

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Tampa Bay defensive back Dexter Jackson celebrates his first of two interceptions Sunday.

The Associated Press

Jackson had two of Tampa Bay's five interceptions in the Buccaneers' 48-21 rout of the Oakland Raiders.

He was only the eighth defensive player to win the MVP award in the 37-year history of this game.

Jackson began Oakland's downfall when he intercepted Rich Gannon's pass on the last play of the first quarter. That started Tampa Bay on the way to Martin Gramatica's 43-yard field goal early in the second quarter that gave the Bucs the lead for good at 6-3.

On the next possession, Jackson picked off Gannon again, this time at the Oakland 45. The Bucs did not score on the ensuing possession but got the field position that led to Mike Alstott's touchdown that made it 13-3. When the Bucs scored again before halftime, the rout was on.

Jackson is in his fourth year in the NFL and his three interceptions this season were a career high. He also had 67 unassisted tackles during the season and was a key component of the No. 1 defense in the NFL, providing stability at free safety. His best game came against New Orleans early in the season when he made 10 tackles. His first interception of the season came in a Monday night game against St. Louis.

The Bucs had five interceptions Sunday, returning three for touchdowns.

Jackson earned first-team honors on Florida's Class 4A all-state high school squad with over 1,000 yards passing and rushing his senior year. He passed for a total of 2,013 yards in his last two high school seasons. He was also a track star in high school and averaged 16.8 points per game for the basketball team.

But when he got to Florida State, he became a defensive starter in the secondary and led it for four years with 194 tackles and seven interceptions.

But in the NFL, on a team dominated by defensive stars like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, Jackson was largely overlooked.

On Sunday, he was overlooked again, this time by Gannon, and it led him to the MVP award.

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