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2002 Buccaneers Season 27 Schedule

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2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season 27 Brief

The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 27th season in the National Football League and was their most successful season in franchise history as they won Super Bowl XXXVII.

The season began with the team trying to improve on a 9–7 season and did so with a franchise best 12–4 record. It was Jon Gruden's first season as the Buccaneers head coach. They won the Super Bowl for the first time in the team's history, beating the Oakland Raiders 48–21. To date, this is Tampa Bay's only Super Bowl appearance. They are along with the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints as the only teams to have been to one Super Bowl and win it.

Season Summary

"Pound the rock!" was the slogan of the 2002 team. In January 2002, after losing in the wild card round to the Eagles for the second consecutive year, the Buccaneers fired head coach Tony Dungy. After a recruiting effort aimed at former Jets coach Bill Parcells, Tampa Bay settled on Raiders coach Jon Gruden in exchange for two first round draft picks (2002, 2003), two second round picks (2002, 2004) and US$8 million in cash payments.

Upon his arrival in Tampa Bay, Gruden immediately went to work, acquiring former Jaguars WR Keenan McCardell, and RB Michael Pittman from the Cardinals. The Buccaneers needed to improve their sluggish offense, as the league's sweeping realignment sent them to the new NFC South division, along with Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans.

The offense made slight improvements during the season, but the strength of the team was the defense. The 2002 Buccaneers became the first team to lead the league in total defense, points allowed, and interceptions since the 1985 Chicago Bears. They also held opposing quarterbacks to an unbelievable 48.4 passer rating for the season. Led by this dominating defense, the 2002 Buccaneers achieved their most successful season to date. They won the NFC South title with the team's best ever record, 12–4, and then defeated the 49ers in what became coach Steve Mariucci's last game with that franchise. In a surprising upset, Tampa Bay won their first NFC Championship on the road against the Eagles in the last NFL game ever played at Veterans Stadium. Cornerback Ronde Barber capped off the win by intercepting a Donovan McNabb pass and returning it 92 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneers went on to rout Gruden's former team, the Oakland Raiders, by a score of 48–21 in Super Bowl XXXVII. Gruden's familiarity with the Raiders' players and playbook paid off, as John Lynch and other Buccaneer players recognized some of Oakland's formations and plays at crucial points in the game. The Bucs became the first team to win the Super Bowl without any picks in the first two rounds of the previous spring's NFL Draft, having traded these picks to the Oakland Raiders for the rights to acquire Gruden. At the time, Gruden made history, and became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXXVII: Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl, routing the Oakland Raiders 48–21. The Buccaneers defense intercepted Rich Gannon a Super Bowl record five times, and returned three of the interceptions for touchdowns. Safety Dexter Jackson was named the game's MVP.

As many sports fans and writers predicted, Gruden's prior knowledge of the Raiders was a major factor in the Buccaneers' win in Super Bowl XXXVII. The most damaging piece of evidence is NFL Films footage of Tampa Bay defensive back John Lynch telling his teammates during the game that almost all of the plays ran by Oakland's offense were plays that Gruden (who that week even played the part of "Rich Gannon" by playing QB with the scout-team offense) specifically told them to look out for. Better still for the Buccaneers was that Oakland hadn't changed their audible-calling signals that Gruden himself had installed, thus tipping off plays repeatedly. As a result, Tampa Bay dominated Oakland, outgaining them in total yards (365 to 269), rushing yards (150 to 19), first downs (24 to 11), offensive plays (76 to 60), and forced turnovers (5 to 1).

The Raiders had a great chance to score a touchdown early in the game after cornerback Charles Woodson intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson's pass on the third play of the game and returned it 12 yards to the Tampa Bay 36-yard line. But 6 plays later, Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice sacked Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon on third down, forcing Oakland to settle for kicker Sebastian Janikowski's 40-yard field goal to give them a 3–0 lead.

Buccaneers kick returner Aaron Stecker returned the ensuing kickoff 27 yards to the 29-yard line, then appeared to fumble the ball. Although the officials initially ruled that the ball was recovered by Oakland's Eric Johnson, the play was reviewed by instant replay and the fumble was overturned, and thus Tampa Bay retained possession.

On the first play of the drive, Brad Johnson completed an 11-yard pass to receiver Joe Jurevicius. Johnson's next 2 passes were incomplete, but he then completed a 23-yard pass to Jurevicius on third down to advance the ball to the Oakland 37-yard line. Running back Michael Pittman then rushed for a 23-yard gain to the 13-yard line. However, on the next 3 plays, the Raiders defense limited the Buccaneers to a pair of incompletions and a 1-yard run. Kicker Martin Gramatica then made a 31-yard field goal to tie the game, 3–3.

Later in the period, a 17-yard punt return by Raiders defensive back Darrien Gordon gave Oakland the ball at their own 49-yard line. Gannon then threw an 8-yard pass to running back Charlie Garner to reach the Tampa Bay 43-yard line. But on third down, Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson intercepted Gannon's pass at the 40-yard line and returned it 9-yards to near midfield. Then nine plays after the turnover, Gramatica kicked his second field goal from 43 yards to give Tampa Bay a 6–3 lead.

Jackson intercepted another pass on the Raiders' next drive and returned it 25 yards to Oakland's 45-yard line, making Jackson the first player ever to record 2 interceptions in the first half of the Super Bowl. However, the Buccaneers were unable to take advantage of the turnover and were forced to punt. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they got a big assist from their punter Tom Tupa, who managed to pin Oakland all the way back at their own 11-yard line with his punt. The Raiders could not move the ball either, losing 1 yard on 3 plays with their ensuing drive. Tampa Bay punt returner Karl Williams then returned Shane Lechler's punt 25 yards, giving the Buccaneers great field position at Oakland's 27-yard line. Aided with Pittman's gains of 6 and 19 yards, the Buccaneers scored their first touchdown on a 2-yard run from fullback Mike Alstott, increasing their lead 13–3. Then with 3:45 left in the half, Tampa Bay drove 77 yards, assisted by a pair of catches by Alstott for 28 total yards. Johnson finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keenan McCardell to give the Buccaneers a 20–3 halftime lead.

Tampa Bay continued to dominate the game for most of the third quarter. The Buccaneers forced the Raiders to punt on the opening drive of the second half. Next, Tampa Bay marched 89 yards on a 14-plays drive that took 7:52 off the clock, and ended with Johnson's 8-yard touchdown pass to McCardell to increase their lead to 27–3. Then on the second play of Oakland's ensuing drive, Buccaneers defensive back Dwight Smith intercepted Gannon's pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, making the score 34–3.

After giving up 34 unanswered points, Oakland finally managed to drive 82 yards down the field and score on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Gannon to receiver Jerry Porter. Although he was initially ruled as being out of bounds when he caught the ball, it was determined that Porter had one foot in the end zone and used it to drag the other foot out. The two-point conversion failed, so the Raiders were still down 34–9.

The Raiders' touchdown seemed to fire up their defense, who forced the Buccaneers to a fourth down on their ensuing possession. Oakland lineman Tim Johnson then blocked Tupa's punt, and Raiders defender Eric Johnson returned the ball 13 yards for a touchdown. Another two-point conversion for Oakland failed, but Tampa Bay's lead was cut to 34–15.

Tampa Bay responded by moving the ball to the Oakland 9-yard line on their ensuing drive, featuring a 24-yard run by Pittman, but they came up empty after Tupa fumbled the snap on a field goal attempt. A few plays later, Gannon threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerry Rice with 6:06 left in the game, cutting the Raiders deficit to 34–21. Rice became the first player to catch a touchdown pass in 4 different Super Bowls, and third overall to have TDs in 4 Super Bowls (Thurman Thomas and John Elway). The two-point conversion failed when Jerry Porter caught the ball and was forced out of bounds; while the official did not judge it to be a force-out, (judgement call) hence, that part of the play was non reviewable.

In an attempt to prevent a Raiders comeback, the Buccaneers managed to run the clock down to 2:44 on their ensuing drive before being forced to punt. Then on third and 18 from the Oakland 29-yard line, Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks intercepted a pass from Gannon and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, giving the Buccaneers a 41–21 lead with only 1:18 left putting the game out of reach. And a few plays later as the Raiders were now playing for pride, Smith intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown (the 200th TD in Super Bowl history).

Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Aug. 12
Dolphins Miami Dolphins
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
PS - wk 1
Won 14-10
Aug. 16
Jaguars @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
PS - wk 2
Won 20-0
Aug. 24
Redskins Washington Redskins
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
PS - wk 3
Lost 10-40
Aug. 30
Texans @ Houston Texans
Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
PS - wk 4
Won 17-13

2002 Season Results "Champions"

Record: 12-4, DIV: 2-4 (1st in NFC South - Won NFC Championship - Won Super Bowl XXXVII)
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Sep. 8
Saints New Orleans Saints
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 1
Lost 20-26
Sep. 15
Ravens @ Baltimore Ravens
PSINet Stadium, Baltimore, MD
RS - wk 2
Won 25-0
Sep. 23
Rams St Louis Rams
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 3
Won 26-14
Sep. 29
Bengals @ Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
RS - wk 4
Won 35-7
Oct. 6
Falcons @ Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
RS - wk 5
Won 20-6
Oct. 13
Browns Cleveland Browns
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 6
Won 17-3
Oct. 20
Eagles @ Philadelphia Eagles
Veterans Stadium, Philadelphis, PA
RS - wk 7
Lost 10-20
Oct. 27
Panthers @ Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
RS - wk 8
Won 12-9
Nov. 3
Vikings Minnesota Vikings
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 9
Won 38-24
Nov. 10
BYE RS - wk 10
Nov. 17
Panthers Carolina Panthers
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 11
Won 23-10
Nov. 24
Packers Green Bay Packers
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 12
Won 21-7
Dec. 1
Saints @ New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
RS - wk 13
Lost 20-23
Dec. 8
Falcons Atlanta Falcons
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 14
Won 34-10
Dec. 15
Lions @ Detroit Lions
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
RS - wk 15
Won 23-20
Dec. 23
Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 16
Lost 7-17
Dec. 29
Bears @ Chicago Bears
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
RS - wk 17
Won 15-0
Date   Opponent NFC/Superbowl Outcome
Jan. 4
Buccaneers WILD CARD
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
Jan. 12
49ers San Francisco 49ers
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
Won 31-6
Jan. 19
Eagles @ Philadelphia Eagles
Veterans Stadium, Philadelphis, PA
Won 27-10
Jan 26
Raiders Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Won 48-21

ALL Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Links
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
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