Bucs DBs Win War Of Words
The Tampa Tribune, published 27 January 2003

The competition between the Bucs secondary and the Raiders receiving corps continued into the post-game interviews Sunday night. Just as Tampa Bay won the first battle, 48-21, returning three passes for touchdowns, its defensive backs decisively took the war of words.

``We couldn't have beaten the worst team in the league,'' said Raiders receiver Tim Brown, limited to one catch for 9 yards. ``I'm disappointed we didn't play well,'' he said. ``The name of the game is to make the other team adjust, but we had to adjust to them. That's not the greatest defense I've ever seen. We didn't make plays and they did. We stunk up the place.''

Jerry Rice, who was shut out in the first half, said the Raiders shot themselves in the foot. ``We came out a little passive and we tried to establish the run a little bit,'' he said. ``Who knows? We could've come out throwing the ball and still we could be in the same predicament.''

Before you can say sour grapes, cornerback Ronde Barber came back and said Brown and Rice did not belong on the same field. Rice, a sure future Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings, did not catch his first pass of the game - a 6-yarder - until there was 3:30 left in the third quarter. He caught a 48-yard touchdown pass with 6:06 left in the game, finishing with five receptions for 77 yards.

``There's only so much you can do on offense. We've seen a lot of offenses,'' Barber said. ``We dominate these kind of games. They played right into our hands. Tim Brown never saw a defense like this. They never showed us anything but those three-receiver sets. That allows us to put three corners on the field and open up a whole can of worms.''

Nickel back Dwight Smith returned two interceptions for touchdowns (44 and 50 yards) and free safety Dexter Jackson, named the game's MVP, had two early interceptions. ``Those plays in the first half were huge to the outcome of the game,'' strong safety John Lynch said. ``I told Dexter what was coming.''

Rich Gannon, the NFL's Most Valuable Player, did not surpass the 100- yard passing mark until Rice caught his first pass. ``They matched up real well with us,'' said Gannon, who finished 24 of 44 for 272 yards, with two touchdowns and five interceptions. ``Their speed is very good. They got some pressure up front and did a good job in their zones. We got out of rhythm and out of sync.''

Oakland safety Rod Woodson knew his peers on the other sideline had just registered a solid butt-kicking. ``Their defense is pretty tough,'' he said. ``They sit in their Cover 2 and make plays. They weren't even blitzing and still getting to Rich.''