What a glorious time. The Buccaneers won their first (and only) Lombardi Trophy 16 years ago today. The date was Jan. 26, 2003 when Tampa Bay intercepted Oakland’s Rich Gannon five times en route to a 48-21 victory.
The Bucs beat the 49ers (31-6 in Tampa) and Eagles (27-10 in Philadelphia) on their way to San Diego, while the Raiders took down the Jets (30-10 in Oakland) and Titans (41-24 in Oakland) to get there. The stage was set for an all-pirate Super Bowl that pit Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden against his former team. The Bucs had traded for Gruden prior to the season, and on that day in January, the move paid off.
Gruden had Tampa Bay prepared for Oakland’s high-powered offense. Eventual MVP Dexter Jackson had two interceptions, as did Dwight Smith (who returned both of his for touchdowns). Derrick Brooks had a pick six of his own in the fourth quarter to ice the game completely. Overall, Oakland put up just 269 yards against the vaunted Tampa Bay defense.
The Buccaneer offense clicked as well, with Brad Johnson completing 18 of his 34 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan McCardell caught both touchdowns from Johnson, Michael Pittman ran the ball 29 times for 124 yards and Mike Alstott found the end zone.
It was a magical day for the franchise, one that is still remembered and talked about to this day. Of course, it might get brought up even more frequently because of how poor the team has been in recent years. But nonetheless, everyone surely remembers where they were when Gruden and owner Malcolm Glazer embraced and celebrated Tampa Bay’s first-ever championship.
Never mind the fact that a person born on that day in 2003 could get their driver’s license today. Today is still a good day to celebrate the highest point in franchise history. Kick back and watch the team’s “America’s Game” documentary, some highlights from the game or the full game itself. If you have nothing to do until it’s time for the NHL All Star Game or NXT TakeOver tonight, maybe you’ll want to watch all three.
Cheers, Bucs fans. Here’s to another magical run in the near future, eh?