Super Bowl XXXVII

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Super Bowl XXXVII was a game that saw a number of "firsts" on the field, as the AFC champion Oakland Raiders take on the NFC champion Tampa Bay Raiders. For example, it was the first time in Super Bowl history that the NFL's number-one ranked offense (Raiders) faced the league's number-one defensive team (Buccaneers). It also marked the first time that Tampa Bay would appear in a Super Bowl, after enjoying a 12-4 regular season record. The contest was the fifth Super Bowl held a week after the conference championship games, and the last Super Bowl to have been played in January. (The following year, the NFL permanently moved the big game to February.) The Raiders, meanwhile, were enjoying their fifth Super Bowl appearance in team history after posting an 11-5 regular season record. Many fans also enjoyed the excitement that swirled around Bucs' head coach Jon Gruden, who had led the Raiders (1998-2001) before joining Tampa Bay (2002-2008). Interestingly, both Gruden and Oakland head coach Bill Callahan took their teams to a Super Bowl Sunday appearance in their debut year with their respective team. 
 
Super Bowl XXXVII was played on January 26, 2003, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Although Oakland was a four-point favorite and the team, led by quarterback Rich Gannon, had a golden opportunity to strike first after cornerback Charles Woodson intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson's pass on the third play of the 1st quarter, they ultimately had to settle for kicker Sebastian Janikowski's 40-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. After that, however, most of game really belonged to Tampa Bay. Gannon threw a Super Bowl-record five interceptions … three of which were returned for touchdowns. The Bucs also sacked Gannon five times and led 20-3 at halftime. By late in the 3rd quarter, Tampa Bay had scored 34 unanswered points and took a 34-3 lead before Oakland was able to make the score 34-9 (thanks to a 39-yard touchdown pass from Gannon to wide receiver Jerry Porter). Oakland's defense suddenly seemed to come to life, with the team tacking on another six points after blocking a Tampa Bay punt. After running down the clock to 2:44, 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. Then, with only two seconds left on the clock, Dwight Smith intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown with only two seconds remaining. Martin Gramatica kicked the extra point, and the Buccaneers won 48-21 to take home their first Lombardi Trophy. Dexter Jackson captured MVP honors, becoming only the second safety and third defensive back to ever be named Super Bowl MVP. Oddly, the game's attendance (67,603) was the third smallest ever for a Super Bowl game; only Super Bowl I (61,946) and Super Bowl XXVI (63,130) had a lower attendance.

 

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