Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Defense Rests; QB Gets Trip

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Defense Rests; QB Gets Trip

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino, Times-Union sports writer

SAN DIEGO -- Defense may win championships, but it doesn't sell tickets at Disney World.

It wasn't that surprising that safety Dexter Jackson, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII with a pair of interceptions, didn't get the trip to Disney World.

Neither did any of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers high-profile defensive players.

That accolade went to quarterback Brad Johnson, who opened the game by throwing an interception and rode the defense and the running of Michael Pittman to a 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Jackson joked yesterday that he could ride by Disney World in the new Cadillac he received for winning the MVP honors and added that he might go to Six Flags.

The last three teams to win the Super Bowl -- Baltimore, New England and now Tampa Bay -- won it with their defense.

All three times, the team's quarterback still got to go to Disney World, although linebacker Ray Lewis of the Ravens was probably bypassed because of his off-the-field problems.

A flashy offense gets more notice than a tough defense, which is why the Raiders were four-point favorites, even though top defenses generally dominate the Super Bowl.

This was the first time the No. 1 defense faced the No. 1 defense in the Super Bowl, but it was the 10th time a top-three defense faced a top-three defense. The defensive teams are 9-1.

It was the eighth time a top-ranked defense has made the Super Bowl since the 1970 merger and the defensive teams are 7-1.

Even though Jon Gruden is considered an offensive coach, he said yesterday, "I learned a long time ago that defense wins championships."

So does coaching. And Gruden proved he was worth the two first-round and two second-round draft picks and $8 million ransom the Bucs paid to the Raiders to get him.

Tampa Bay won't make its first selection until the final pick of the second round in April and won't have a second-round pick in 2004. They also didn't have a pick in the first two rounds last April.

But they have a Super Bowl victory and Gruden, who replaced the popular Tony Dungy with the Bucs, is now the NFL's latest coaching genius. He's the youngest coach in the league at 39 and the youngest to win a Super Bowl.

Gruden, though, didn't sound like a genius after the game. Maybe being the son of coach, he knows how fleeting success is in the NFL.

"It wasn't me," he said. "It was our team."

It wasn't so long ago that the Denver Broncos' Mike Shanahan was the resident genius after winning Super Bowls in 1997 and '98.

But then John Elway retired. Shanahan is barely above .500 over the past four seasons.

The 2000 winner, Baltimore's Brian Billick, was on the ABC-TV set Sunday as a talking head and Bill Belichick of New England, last year's winner, wrote a column in the New York Times Sunday explaining how difficult it is to stay on top. …

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