The Buccaneers' Simeon Rice comes to the Pro Bowl off a two-sack performance yesterday.
Pro Bowl nextSAN DIEGO >> Two quarterbacks are headed for Honolulu, looking forward to the festivities of Pro Bowl week and a chance to relax a bit after the stress of preparing for Super Bowl XXXVII.
for 6 Buccaneers
By Cindy Luis
It will be a much happier flight for Tampa Bay's Brad Johnson, who was named as a reserve for Sunday's game at Aloha Stadium.
Johnson and five of his teammates arrive in Hawaii on Wednesday as Super Bowl champions, having won the Vince Lombardi Trophy with a 48-21 victory over the Raiders yesterday.
Historically, the team with the better defense has been victorious in this NFL title game, winning 31 of the previous 36 Super Bowls.
Yesterday was no exception, as the Buccaneers picked off Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon five times, three of which were returned for touchdowns.
Gannon, the league MVP, will be at Aloha Stadium for the fourth consecutive year, having been named the AFC's starting quarterback.
"We didn't execute today," said Gannon, who was 24 of 44 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. "It's very frustrating and disappointing. I felt like we had a good game plan, but we didn't execute it.
"I felt I had a good season, but I had a terrible night."
The day didn't start out any better for the Raiders.
Oakland had five players named to this Sunday's Pro Bowl, but only four were on the field after coach Bill Callahan sent starting center Barret Robbins home to Alameda, Calif., for unspecified reasons.
Robbins missed Saturday's walk-through, prompting Callahan to tell the rest of his players that "no one player is bigger than this team."
Various reports had Robbins either in San Diego or in a hospital. It is unclear whether Robbins will be making the trip to Honolulu this week.
"It was no distraction because I eliminated it," said Callahan.
The Raiders went with Adam Treu, who started 14 games for them last season.
"I thought Adam did a helluva job," said Gannon. But Gannon did miss the help on protection that Robbins provided this season.
Tampa Bay's top-ranked defense sacked Gannon five times, including one by Pro Bowl-bound defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
"This was their whole thing, their tempo, their tempo," said Sapp of Oakland's plan to control the game. "We got their coach (Jon Gruden) and he brought their tempo to us. We always like to play fast and hard on defense. It was nothing but a challenge to us and we matched that challenge.
"We got the tempo we wanted. Now the whole world knows about us, about the world champions."
Sapp has been selected to the Pro Bowl six consecutive years, although he did not play in it last season. He will be joined by teammate Simeon Rice, the defensive end who was a Pro Bowl pick in 2000 while playing for Arizona.
Rice had five tackles yesterday and pressured Gannon all game.
"I used my speed to get around them," said Rice. "They (the Raiders) couldn't get on a roll because they couldn't stand the pressure. They weren't prepared for what this defense brings."
As touted as Tampa Bay's defense was coming into the game, it was the Bucs' surprising success on the ground offensively that had the Raiders off-balance.
Unheralded Michael Pittman had 29 carries for 124 yards, while Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott added 15 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown and five receptions for 43 yards.
"Next to my child's birth, this is the happiest day of my life," said Alstott, making his sixth trip to Honolulu. "The Pro Bowl is a tremendous achievement to be selected by my peers and coaches and fans, but I'll think about that later. I just want to enjoy this right now.
"I'm in shock right now. After seven years to finally win it ... there's nothing better. I'm proud to be part of something special."
Alstott scored the first touchdown of the game, putting Tampa Bay ahead 13-3 on a 2-yard run with 6:24 left in the second quarter. His score was part of a 31-0 scoring spree by the Bucs that had them leading 34-3 with 4:47 to go in the third period.
"I was just happy to get in the end zone and help the team win," said Alstott.
It was also a sweet win for Tampa Bay safety John Lynch, who grew up here in San Diego rooting against the Raiders.
"They have Hall of Famers all over the field," said Lynch, who will be making his fifth Pro Bowl appearance. "We respect them. They have a great offense. But we knew that Gannon couldn't sit back there all day. He's going to pick you apart if he has the time.
"Our D-line and our blitz packages are too good. We're going to get him."
The Bucs were pleased to see one of their younger players get the MVP award. Safety Dexter Jackson, in his fourth year, had two key interceptions that helped keep Oakland out of the end zone.
"Dexter getting the MVP was great for the young guys and the role players who stepped up for us," said six-time Pro Bowl pick Derrick Brooks, who returned an interception 44 yards for a 41-21 Tampa Bay lead.
Besides Gannon -- a two-time Pro Bowl MVP -- safety Rod Woodson will also be in the Pro Bowl for the Raiders. This is his 11th selection.
Receiver Jerry Rice will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance in an Oakland uniform after 12 times with San Francisco.
Rice finished with five catches for 77 yards and the touchdown that helped Oakland to close to 34-21 with 6:06 remaining in the game.
Tackle Lincoln Kennedy will also represent Oakland in the Pro Bowl as a reserve.
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