Pewter Report Post-Game Roundtable

January 26 – Pewter Report editors Scott Reynolds, Leo Haggerty and Jim Flynn have each given their takes on the outcome of Super Bowl XXXVII in this 1,700-word commentary. You don't want to miss what the Pewter Report editors had to about Tampa Bay's 48-21 win over Oakland on Sunday.

SCOTT REYNOLDS – Pewter Report Editor-In-Chief:

"The Raiders played right into the Bucs' hands on defense by throwing the ball like crazy and forgoing the run. Rich Gannon completed more passes to Dexter Jackson in the first half than he did to either Jerry Rice or Tim Brown. Oakland invited the Bucs' five picks and five sacks by ignoring the running game. Simeon Rice was outstanding with two sacks that counted, and then another one that prevented a two-point conversion. Dwight Smith also intercepted Gannon twice, returning both picks for touchdown and Derrick Brooks also found the end zone with his fourth quarter interception. As head coach Jon Gruden said in the post-game, 'Against the forward pass (our defense) says bring it on.' Gannon and the Raiders did, and it cost them the Super Bowl."

"Tampa Bay's offense has been outstanding in the postseason. Scoring 31 points against San Francisco, then 17 points on the road against a great Philadelphia defense. But to come out against Oakland in the Super Bowl and put up 27 points on offense is incredible. This is the reason why the Glazers brought Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay -- for his offense and his play-calling prowess. Tony Dungy couldn't have done this, and probably not Bill Parcells, either. Gruden gave this team balance by bringing a legitimate offense to the Buccaneers. The amount of points the offense put on the board in the first three quarters allowed them to weather the late storm that Oakland brought in the fourth quarter with a Jerry Porter touchdown, a touchdown from a blocked punt and a long touchdown bomb to Jerry Rice. Gruden proved to be worth every pick and every penny paid to Al Davis."

"Is Brad Johnson a cool customer or what? He throws a first quarter interception in his third-straight postseason game and overcomes it in a big way. Johnson is so underrated. I'm glad that he is going to the Pro Bowl after all due to Michael Vick's foot injury. Vick shouldn't have gone at all to begin with. He's a good quarterback, but far from a great one. Thank goodness Vick hurt his foot because Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb got selected over Johnson, who is the NFC's leading passer, earlier this week when Brett Favre backed out. McNabb? The guy who missed the last six games of the season due to an injury and then stunk it up in the NFC Championship game? You've got to be kidding me. Go Brad Johnson!"

"This is the Michael Pittman that the Buccaneers envisioned when they signed him in free agency. I know fans were disappointed with his lack of rushing production this year, but his severely sprained ankle didn't come around until December. I remember him telling me during midseason that he felt a month behind the offensive line due to the time he missed in training camp. He missed so much valuable time during camp and in the preseason and didn't get healthy and in sync with his line until late in the season. After his 90-yard rushing day against Chicago in the season finale, Pittman delivered a 23-yard run against San Francisco in the playoffs and had a nice 31-yard catch-and-run against Philadelphia. He capped off his 2002 season with his best day as a Buccaneer, leading all Super Bowl rushers with 124 yards on 29 carries and had several big runs, including a 23-yarder in the first quarter that got the offense going."

"Unbelievably, Jon Gruden challenged the Buccaneers defense to score nine touchdowns this season. Nine?! The defensive players looked at themselves and gasped with amazement when they heard that back in the spring. Well, thanks largely to linebacker Derrick Brooks, the defense scored five times during the regular season and four times in the post-season, including three times in the Super Bowl. Add that up and you get ... nine."

"Including the postseason, in which he had four quarterback takedowns in three games, including two in the Super Bowl, defensive end Simeon Rice totalled 19.5 sacks this year, which is the most in team history and also the most in the NFL. Miami's Jason Taylor led the NFL in the regular season with 18.5."

"I thought the officiating was atrocious. I can't believe how these supposed 'all-star' officials blew. Aaron Stecker's alleged fumble in the first quarter on a kickoff return was a joke. The pass interference call on Charles Woodson near the sidelines was also a laugher. The refs also blew Jerry Porter's touchdown, which was corrected due to instant replay, as was Stecker's fumble. Referee Bill Carrollo correctly ruled that Porter's two-point conversion catch was out of bounds in the fourth quarter, but did he tell Oakland coach Bill Callahan that the play wasn't reviewable before he reviewed it? Argh! The NFL needs to change their rules about Super Bowl officials and take the best total officiating crew of the year and not the best individual officials."

LEO HAGGERTY – Pewter Report Managing Editor:

"If there was any question about how dominating the Tampa Bay defense was during the 2002 regular season it was put to rest in the playoffs. The legions of defense coordinator Monte Kiffin completed dismantled the San Francisco 49ers plus annihilated the Philadelphia Eagles to get to Super Bowl XXXVII. The icing was put on the cake when the Pewter Pirates embarrassed the No. 1 offense in the National Football League when they destroyed the Oakland Raiders to the tune of 48-21 with three interception returns for touchdowns. This defense must go down as one of the great units in NFL history."

"I would like to thank the Oakland Raiders for the stupidest – if there is such a word – offensive game plan in Super Bowl history. Obviously, the Silver & Black did not respect or comprehend the speed of the Tampa Bay defense and that speed kills. The only change the Raiders had of winning the football game was to pound the running game between the tackles. Head coach Bill Callahan and his staff decided to show the world why Oakland had the No. 1 offense and passing game. That played into the teeth and strength of the Buccaneers defense and the Raiders were chewed up."

"How sweet it is. After starting out with 26 consecutive losses the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it to the top of the mountain. Super Bowl XXXVII champs and this may just be the tip of the iceberg. The offense is ahead of schedule and will only get better as they become comfortable with the Gulf Coast system. The defense, the best by far in the National Football League, looks like it will be at that level for two or three more years. The kicking game is in able hands also. Look for general manager Rich McKay and head coach Jon Gruden to do some tweaking but, as an old saying in coaching goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it."

JIM FLYNN – Pewter Report Assistant Editor:

"It's official – Tampa Bay's defense is one of the best to have ever played in the National Football League. Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's troops put a stranglehold on Oakland's offense in the first quarter and they didn't let go until they had a 34-3 lead. And once the Raiders worked their way back into the game, players like linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Dwight Smith made huge plays. Tampa Bay's defense intercepted Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon five times and they sacked him five times. The Bucs returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns. I've never witnessed such a stifling defensive effort."

"Tampa Bay free safety Dexter Jackson's agent much be smiling tonight. His client won the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII by intercepting two passes against the Raiders. Jackson will become a free agent this offseason and his agent will likely use his client's award as a negotiating tool. But the Bucs might have to let Jackson go if he demands too much money. Tampa Bay's first free agent priority will be middle linebacker Shelton Quarles."

"Pro Bowl voters have to be second guessing themselves for not voting for Tampa Bay cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly. These guys played at a Pro Bowl-level throughout the entire playoffs. They held Oakland wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown to just six catches for 86 yards and one touchdown on Sunday."

"Bucs running back Michael Pittman certainly saved his best effort as a Buc for last. Pittman had season-highs in carries (29) and rushing yards (124). Pittman averaged 4.3 yards per carry and played a huge role in moving Tampa Bay's offense up and down the field against Oakland's defense. Pittman displayed balance and seemed to have very good field vision on Sunday. He also had some great blocks from FB Mike Alstott and the offensive line. If Pittman can pick up next season where he left off on Sunday, Tampa Bay's ground attack will be dangerous in '03."

"If you take a look back at the wide receivers that free agency had to offer during the offseason, you'll find that Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicius were the two best acquisitions in terms of production and value this season. It just so happens that both were recruited by – and signed with – the Bucs."

"Although they started the game shaky, Tampa Bay's offensive line had another solid outing, especially in the running game. I thought for sure that the Bucs would try to renovate this unit during the offseason, but their strong finish might convince Bucs head coach Jon Gruden that they're capable of being as dominant as he wants/needs them to be."

Speaking of Gruden, he was worth every draft pick and every penny the Glazers surrendered to Oakland in exchange for his services. He erased 27 years of bad memories in his first season as coach of the Bucs. The only problem is that he might have set the bar too high for himself. After all, anything less than a Super Bowl from this point forward will be viewed by many as unacceptable."

"If Tampa Bay can keep its defense pretty much intact, I don't see any reason why the Pewter Pirates can't make a serious run at the Super Bowl again next season."

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