Bucs Game Grades

January 26 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII. Which players fared well? Which didn't? PewterReport.com has distributed grades to the Bucs players based on their performance in Super Bowl XXXVII.

QUARTERBACKS
Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson started Super Bowl XXXVII shaky. The Bucs opened up the game in a no-huddle offense, but the pace appeared to be too frantic for this unit. Johnson also struggled in the beginning of the game due to the lack of time he was given to throw by his offensive line. Johnson was drilled on the third play of the game, which caused an interception. That turnover eventually led to three points for the Raiders. But things settled down for Johnson and Co. when Bucs head coach Jon Gruden elected to go to the ground game. Once the Bucs established the run, it allowed Johnson to pick apart Oakland's secondary. Johnson had two touchdown passes on Sunday, both of which were hauled in by wide receiver Keenan McCardell. Johnson completed 18-of-34 passes for 215 yards and he tossed two touchdown passes and just one interception.

*Tampa Bay converted 6-of-15 third down attempts.

GRADE: B


RUNNING BACKS
It didn't take long for Gruden to figure out that his offense could run the ball with success against Oakland's defense. Bucs running back Michael Pittman busted loose for a 23-yard gain in the first quarter. Bucs fullback Mike Alstott threw a terrific block on the play, which allowed Pittman to sprint up the left sideline to Oakland's 15-yard line. Pittman had a 20-yard run in the second quarter. That play put the offense on Oakland's 2-yard line. With 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Pittman got loose again, this time gaining 25 yards on the carry. That huge run put Tampa Bay's offense on Oakland's 10-yard line. Pittman didn't score, but he certainly helped set up some of the Pewter Pirates' scores in Super Bowl XXXVII. Pittman ran with balance, power and patience, and he seemed to be reading the field very well throughout the game. Pittman carried the ball 29 times for 124 yards (4.3 avg.).

Alstott scored Tampa Bay's first touchdown of the game with 8:00 remaining in the second quarter. Alstott's touchdown run was a 2-yard burst up the middle of the field. Alstott didn't have much success running the ball, but he was productive in the passing game. Alstott lined up often as a lead blocker for Pittman and he did a great job of springing Pittman loose on a couple of plays. Alstott carried the ball 10 times for 15 yards (1.5 avg.). He caught five passes for 43 yards.

* Tampa Bay rushed 42 times for 150 yards (3.6 avg.).

GRADE: A-


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Tampa Bay WR Joe Jurevicius hauled in a pass for a 12-yard gain on the first play of the Bucs' second series. Jurevicius came up huge on the same drive when he hauled in a pass on a crossing route on third-and-10 and gained 23 yards. Jurevicius' two catches on the team's second offensive series of the game led to a 31-yard field by K Martin Gramatica. Jurevicius hauled in another pass for a first down in the third quarter. He followed that up with a huge catch on a drag route, which put Tampa Bay's offense on Oakland's 11-yard line. It was a 33-yard play. Jurevicius caught four passes for 78 yards.

Tampa Bay WR Keyshawn Johnson hauled in a pass on a slant pattern for a 10-yard gain in the first quarter. Johnson hauled in a 12-yard pass for a first down on the Bucs' first offensive series of the second quarter. Johnson hauled in another pass on that drive on a drag route. The play put the Bucs on the Raiders' 27-yard line. Johnson did a nice job of adjusting for a pass thrown behind him late in the second quarter. The catch put Tampa Bay's offense on Oakland's 20-yard line. Johnson hauled in another pass on a slant for a first down on the first offensive series of the second half. Johnson hauled in a 14-yard pass on the right sideline in the fourth quarter. The play helped Tampa Bay keep the ball and continue to run the clock down. Johnson led the offense in receptions with six for 69 yards.

Bucs WR Keenan McCardell hauled in a touchdown pass in man-to-man coverage with :30 remaining in the first half. The 10-yard score put the Bucs up 20-3. McCardell caught his second touchdown pass of the game midway through the third quarter. That score put the Bucs up 27-3. McCardell made a nice spin move to rid himself of the defender and he practically walked into the end zone after that. Those were McCardell's only two catches of the game, but they were both huge.

GRADE: B


TIGHT ENDS:
Bucs TE Ken Dilger hauled in a 12-yard pass to move the offense closer to the goal line midway through the third quarter. Dilger leaped into the air, but couldn't quite make it into the end zone for the touchdown. Dilger did a nice job of blocking on the line of scrimmage too.

GRADE: B


OFFENSIVE LINE:
It looked like Tampa Bay's offensive line was going to revert back to old habits at the beginning of Super Bowl XXXVII, but it didn't take this unit long to settle down. This unit opened up some nice holes in the running game by pulling. They also managed to get a great push up front on most plays. This unit struggled in pass protection at the beginning of the game. Bucs LG Kerry Jenkins couldn't hold off Raiders RE Regan Upshaw long enough for QB Brad Johnson to throw on the third play of the game. The play resulted in an interception. Bucs right guard Cosey Coleman threw a nice block on Alstott's 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Bucs right tackle Kenyatta Walker did a nice job in the running game, but he was called a couple of penalties.

*Tampa Bay's offensive line didn't allow quarterback Brad Johnson to get sacked.

GRADE: B-


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay starting left end Greg Spires did a nice job against Oakland on Sunday. Spires did a nice job of chasing down Raiders QB Rich Gannon on Oakland's first offensive series of the game. Spires sacked Gannon on Oakland's second offensive series of the game, which caused the Raiders to punt. Spires got to Gannon by bull- ushing Raiders RT Lincoln Kennedy. On Oakland's third offensive series, Spires came up big again on a third-down play. Spires got his hand up to deflect Gannon's pass attempt. Bucs defensive lineman Ellis Wyms pressured Gannon out of the pocket on that play. Spires pressured Gannon again on a third-and-2 play in the first quarter. It caused Gannon to force a pass, which was picked off by FS Dexter Jackson. Spires recorded three tackles and one sack on Sunday. He was a very disruptive force in the trenches.

Tampa Bay right defensive end Simeon Rice had an outstanding outing against Oakland. He came up with a huge sack on third down on Oakland's first series of the game. The sack caused Oakland to settle for a field goal after Brad Johnson's interception. Rice sacked Gannon again midway through the second quarter. That play put Oakland on its own 9-yard line. Rice sacked Gannon on Oakland's 2-point conversion try after WR Jerry Porter's touchdown in the third quarter. Rice probably could have recorded another sack in the fourth quarter, but he was held on the play, which resulted in a penalty. Rice notched five tackles and two sacks on Sunday.

Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp saw some double teams on Sunday, but he was able to get by Oakland guard Frank Middleton when he was left in one-on-one matchups with him. Sapp sacked Gannon in the fourth quarter, which caused a fumble, but the Bucs couldn't receover. He also tipped a pass and caused it to fall incomplete. Sapp recorded two tackles on Sunday.

Bucs defensive tackles Chuck Darby and Ellis Wyms rotated at the nose tackle position. Wyms recorded a sack and three tackles. Darby didn't record a tackle.

*Tampa Bay's defense held Oakland to 19 yards rushing on 11 carries.

GRADE: A


LINEBACKERS:
As always, Tampa Bay Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks was all over the field on Sunday. Brooks recorded three tackles against the Raiders. But Brooks' biggest play came with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. Brooks intercepted Gannon's pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. That put the Bucs up by a score of 41-21.

Tampa Bay middle linebacker Shelton Quarles was excellent against the run. He recorded seven tackles. But Quarles was called for pass interference in the third quarter. Quarles was injured in the fourth quarter. Bucs backup middle linebacker Nate Webster recorded two tackles and was involved in Jerry Rice's touchdown by not dropping back into coverage fast enough. Both Quarles and Brooks along with strongside linebacker Al Singleton were awesome in terms of tackling.

* Oakland running back Charlie Garner hauled in seven passes for just 51 yards.

GRADE: A


SECONDARY:
Tampa Bay free safety Dexter Jackson hauled in not one, but two huge interceptions in the first half of Sunday's game. The first was on a third-and-2 play in the first quarter. The second came when the Bucs were in nickel coverage and Jackson managed to jump Gannon's pass. Jackson recorded one tackle and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII.

Bucs CB Brian Kelly made a terrific play to break up a pass on third-and-2 on the first series of the second half. He did a fantastic job in coverage on Sunday. Kelly and Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber shutdown Oakland wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Kelly quietly led the defense in tackles with eight while Barber recorded four tackles. The Bucs held Brown to one catch for nine yards.

Bucs nickel cornerback Dwight Smith came up huge in the third quarter when Gannon tried to hit WR Jerry Rice on the sideline. Smith jumped the pass and intercepted it. He sprinted 44 yards down the sideline for the touchdown. That score put the Bucs up 34-3. But Smith allowed a touchdown to WR Jerry Porter in the third quarter. Smith trailed Porter on a deep route and fell down, which allowed Porter to score, which made the score 34-9. Then, Smith made up for the bad play by hauling in another interception and returning it 50 yards for another touchdown with under 1:00 remaining in the game.

* Tampa Bay's defense allowed Oakland QB Rich Gannon to complete 24-of-44 passes for 272 yards. Gannon threw two touchdowns and five interceptions.

GRADE: A+


SPECIAL TEAMS:
This unit still managed to give fans plenty of stressful moments. But overall, the special teams unit fared well.

Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica drilled a 31-yard field goal after Tampa Bay's second offensive drive of the game stalled in Raiders territory. That tied the game at 3-3 in the first quarter. Gramatica drilled a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter, which put the Bucs up 6-3. Later in the game, Tupa bobbled a perfect snap by LS Ryan Benjamin on a 27-yard field goal attempt by Gramatica in the fourth quarter. The mishap resulted in a turnover for Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay's special teams coverage unit allowed PR Darian Gordon to return a Tom Tupa punt to the 50-yard line.

Tampa Bay CB Dwight Smith was flagged for an illegal block in the back on a fair catch by Karl Williams. It pinned the Bucs' offense deep in their own territory.

Tampa Bay cornerback Corey Ivy made two great open field tackles on special teams. Tampa Bay fullback Darian Barnes also had two excellent open field tackles on special teams coverage.

Tupa pinned Oakland on its own 11-yard line midway through the second quarter. But Tupa had a punt blocked at the beginning of the fourth quarter and it was returned for a touchdown. That made the score 34-15. Tupa averaged just 31 yards per punt on Sunday.

Bucs punt returner Karl Williams returned a punt 25 yards to Oakland's 26-yard line in the second quarter.

GRADE: C+


COACHING:
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden did an excellent job of keeping Oakland's defense off balance and on the field. The Bucs offense ran a very balanced attack throughout Sunday's game, running 42 times and passing it 34 times. This allowed Tampa Bay to control the time of possession by about one full quarter. Gruden did a nice job of staying aggressive with the big lead, which resulted in Tampa Bay scoring a touchdown at the end of the first quarter instead of settling for a field goal attempt. And of course, the job Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin did against the Raiders was impressive. He threw a variety of blitz packages at Gannon and Co., but it was Tampa Bay's front four that rattled Gannon and caused him to force some throws that were picked off.

GRADE: A+


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