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McCardell leads receivers' big day

Touchdowns at the end of the first half and early in the second help the Bucs build a big lead.

By JACK SHEPPARD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2003


SAN DIEGO -- The last time Keenan McCardell slipped on a Super Bowl ring, it just didn't feel right.

Yes, his Redskins won during his rookie season 11 years ago. Yes, although he was on injured reserve, technically, he was on the team and deserved the ring.

But Sunday, as he said all week he hoped he would, McCardell earned it, catching touchdowns of 5 and 8 yards.

"This one's going to fit a lot different," McCardell said. "It's taken 11 years to get another one. It was tough, but we did it."

Overlooked for much of Super Bowl week (partly because of the story involving fellow receiver Joe Jurevicius and the circus that is Keyshawn Johnson), McCardell grabbed some headlines of his own Sunday.

His touchdowns, his only two receptions of the game, were his seventh and eighth of the season after leading the team during the regular season with six.

McCardell's first score came at the end of the first half, giving Tampa Bay a 20-3 lead and momentum entering halftime.

"That was a big one," he said. "We wanted to go in with a score before half. Brad saw me one-on-one. And when you see that as a receiver, you lick your chops. I was hoping he'd see me, and he did."

His second score was no less significant, especially considering Oakland's rally, culminating an 89-yard drive. On second and goal from the 8, McCardell again found himself in single coverage, beat the safety and put the Bucs ahead 27-3.

"We were driving, and we knew we needed to put some points on the board," he said. "I really thought making that score, me being a leader, I had to step up and make that play. (Brad) saw me. I made a move, and it was a touchdown."

McCardell wasn't the only receiver with a big day. Jurevicius, who had a 71-yard catch in the NFC championship victory against Philadelphia, had four catches for 78 yards, including receptions of 11 and 33 yards during the first drive of the second half. "Guys like me and Keenan, everything we do on the field is symptomatic of what we do," said Jurevicius, who missed several days of practice during the playoffs after his newborn son had medical problems. "I gave all I had. Why not? It was the last game of the year. I gave it 60 minutes, and now I can't wait to get home."

Johnson was not without his contributions. He led all receivers with six receptions (for 69 yards), and five of his catches gave the Bucs first downs.

"People say we don't have great receivers," Keyshawn Johnson said. "They say we're not fast, and I'm sure (the Raiders) weren't worried about us. But we did a good job of mixing it up out there. All I know is we got it done."

"They don't have great receivers," said Raiders safety Rod Woodson, whose secondary gave up 215 passing yards. "Keyshawn is good, but he's not great. Let's get that straight. But they're consistent, and sometimes, that's all you need."

In a diary he wrote for ESPN.com during Super Bowl week, Johnson vowed not to speak to the media after Sunday's game, or for the last three years of his current contract. (After which, he said, he would retire.)

All was forgiven after Sunday's victory.

"You think I'd miss the opportunity to talk to all you guys who didn't give us a chance?" Johnson said.

"I reserve the right to change my mind just the way all you guys changed your minds."

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