Keys to victory
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 26, 2003
1) GET PUSHY: The Raiders know they don't have the speed to outrun the Bucs on either side of the ball. They'll be better off trying to push them around, putting their huge offensive linemen (who average a listed 322 pounds) and defensive tackles (315) in positions to throw their weight around. An occasional run up the middle by bruising 235-pounder Tyrone Wheatley wouldn't be a bad idea either.
2) KEEP GANNON CLEAN: The Oakland offense is built around timing and precision, so it's imperative the Raiders don't let the Bucs get to quarterback Rich Gannon. He's not nearly as effective with a hand in his face or a defensive lineman around his ankles. Teams that beat the Raiders do it with a strong pass rush and airtight coverage by their cornerbacks, disrupting Gannon's mastery of making quick reads and distributing the ball.
3) DON'T GET TOO CUTE: Because Bucs coach Jon Gruden knows so much about them, the Raiders might try to change their tendencies and get away from what they do best. Or they might say they're going to change, then stay the same. Or they might say they're going to change, then make it look like they didn't change, then actually go ahead and change. Or ... Anyway, you get the idea. The Raiders got this far with a precision passing game, and it would be foolish to try and reinvent themselves into a running team now.
4) STRIKE FIRST: Because they use so many offensive formations, the Raiders usually force opposing defenses to play tentatively early in games. If they can go down the field and score right away, as they did against the Jets and Titans, they'll accomplish two important things: a) they'll gain confidence that the touted Tampa Bay defense is not impenetrable, and b) they'll prevent the Bucs from getting too comfortable and playing with the confidence and cockiness on which they thrive.
5) GET JERRY PORTER THE BALL: The Bucs think they can handle running back Charlie Garner (although it is a little more interesting when he splits out wide) and can cover veteran receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. But Porter can be the X factor, as he was in playoff victories against the Jets and Titans. The Raiders would be wise to use his speed to stretch the defense, knowing he can change the game on a single play.
Back to the Super Bowl XXXVII
Super Bowl XXXVII:
They've arrived and so have we
Defense snarls as its potential legend awaits
For Raiders, there's no more holding back
Bucs coach has been intense all of his life
Ernest Hooper: Their faith suffuses champions breakfast
Keys to victory
Bucs: Offense: No. 1 vs. emerging force
So who's laughing now?
Sideline II: Who's going . . .
Raiders: Raiders D knows it can do the job
Times staff predictions
Kickin' back: A Glazer's vision: 'an elite franchise'
Chucky's Super Bowl XXXVII Chalk Talk
Return from nowhere: Bucs tracking 'anonymous' return men
Raiders: Raiders don't use injuries as excuse
Age-old question will be answered tonight
Notebook: Ballroom practice keeps team on toes
Bucs game by game 200
Raiders game by game 2002
Side line: Hallowed be thy Raider QB
In brief: Two-week break to return next season
Tampa Bay fans: Long-denied shout their pride
Past Super Bowls
Raiders notebook: Woodson says injury won't slow him down
Raiders: Keys to victory
Raiders: Weird stuff
Raiders: High profile: Jerry Porter
Radio/TV: Super Bowl TV facts
Radio/TV: Madden sticks by his wrong call last year
Guest analysis: John Madden
Guest analyst: Al Michaels
Super Bowl Need to Know
Previous Super Bowl national anthem singers
On the Net: NFL adds incentives for fans to go online
Super Bowl QB is with Bucs ... now