The Associated Press honors defenders Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Derrick Brooks.
By RICK STROUD
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 31, 2000
PHILADELPHIA -- If the Eagles are going to upset the Bucs today in the NFC wild-card game, they will have to do it by beating three All-Pro players who patrol the middle of the Bucs defense.
Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch were repeat selections to the 2000 Associated Press All-Pro team, chosen by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters.
"Hopefully, we can all play like All-Pros tomorrow and throughout these playoffs," Lynch said. "It's nice watching the playoffs and the Miami game to see that maybe defense can win in the playoffs this year. I'm sure when Tony (Dungy) was watching that game he was licking his chops."
Miami defeated Indianapolis in the AFC wild-card game 23-17 in overtime Saturday by holding the Colts to one touchdown in the second half.
Sapp, Brooks and Lynch are among eight Bucs who will represent the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl. But the AP selects one player at each position in the entire league to its All-Pro team.
"All-Pro is a tremendous honor," Lynch said. "The Pro Bowl selects six safeties and the All-Pro team named two league-wide. It's a statement by the writers that you're at the top of your profession. We're fortunate to have three, and that says a lot about our team and our defense."
Sapp actually improved on his performance from '99 when he was the Defensive Player of the Year. He set a team record for sacks with 16.5, which ranked second in the NFL behind the Saints' La'Roi Glover (17).
Brooks, considered the best open-field tackler in the game, led the Bucs with 146 stops.
Lynch not only provided his usual knockouts from the secondary, he proved he can take a blow. After dislocating his shoulder at Chicago, he wore a harness the remainder of the season and did not miss a game.
The Bucs' having three All-Pros is impressive, but the Titans went one better with running back Eddie George, guard Bruce Matthews, cornerback Samari Rolle and kick returner Derrick Mason.
"Any type of recognition is great. First-team All-Pro, that's outstanding," George said. "I'm honored. That's something I'll definitely look back and think I'm finally, officially an All-Pro."
Matthews, who also has made the team at center, was chosen for the seventh time, and the other three were first-time All-Pros. "It's nice to be part of a team that's recognized throughout the league and individually," he said.
The Ravens also had three players selected. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the cornerstone of the stingiest defense in league history (165 points allowed), led all vote-getters with 49. He was joined by tackle Jon Ogden and kicker Matt Stover, the league's scoring leader with 135 points.
Marshall Faulk, the league's Most Valuable Player, was the only member of the defending champion Rams to repeat -- a measure of how difficult a year St. Louis had. Faulk set an NFL mark with 26 touchdowns.
Joining George and Faulk in the backfield was Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon. Like George, Gannon is a first-time All-Pro, two of 13 on the team.
- Information from Times wires was used in this report.