ESPN recently posted, in conjunction with Football Outsiders, a ranking of the top Super Bowl defenses since 1989. The Buccaneers had a dominant defense back in 2002. How high do they rank?
The Buccaneers had an impressive run to their Super Bowl championship in 2002. Led by Warren Sapp, they were led by a dominant defense, and Brad Johnson‘s offense put up 48 points to top the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl 37. We all remember that defense, but how good was it?
More from Bucs News
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
- Todd Bowles admits he only looks at three things on Bucs schedule
ESPN (Insider subscription required) recently worked with the sabermetrics site Football Outsiders to come up with the top Super Bowl defenses. The Outsiders’ didn’t take stats prior to 1989, so the ranking comes from the 1989 through the current season.
Where to the Bucs’ rank? They rank first, that’s where:
"You know your defense is something special when they name an entire scheme after your team, and the Tampa 2 scheme that coordinator Monte Kiffin developed in Tampa Bay is still used throughout the league today. Though the Bucs had been a great defense for several years under Kiffin and Tony Dungy, it wasn’t until Jon Gruden replaced Dungy as head coach in 2002 that the Bucs could field an offense good enough to win a championship.Still, it was the defense that was dominant for these Bucs. Led by stars such as Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, the Buccaneers led the league in points, yards, yards per play and turnovers. They were especially dominant against the pass, giving up only 10 touchdown passes while collecting 31 interceptions, both tops in the league.Led by that defense, the Buccaneers went 12-4 and won the NFC South. They opened their playoff run with a 31-6 beatdown of San Francisco, then traveled to Philadelphia to beat the Eagles 27-10 in the conference championship before crushing the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII. In the process, they limited Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and then-MVP Rich Gannon to a combined 54 percent completion rate, with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Those two touchdowns both came with the Bucs up by at least three scores in the second half of the Super Bowl."
I have to be honest, my initial thought was that the 2000 Ravens were better, and that the 1985 Chicago Bears, although not included in the study, were far better. To my amazement, I learned that the Bucs’ from 2002 compare well with both of them. Take a look at how they ranked in terms of points allowed per game:
- 2002 Bucs: 196 points allowed, 12.2 ppg, ranked first in the NFL
- 2000 Ravens: 165 points allowed, 10.3 ppg, ranked first in the NFL
- 1985 Bears: 198 points allowed, 12.4 ppg, ranked first in the NFL
Great job by ESPN here, because the Bucs’ defense is better than a lot of people remember.
We leave you with some highlights from that great team: