This year’s playoff bracket may be lacking red and pewter, but that can’t stop us from taking a look back at some Buccaneers history. Today is January 12. On this date in 2003, Tampa Bay rolled over the San Francisco 49ers to earn a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
With a five-game winning streak this past season, the Buccaneers found themselves in the playoff picture for the first time in quite a while. They ultimately missed out on the postseason, but January is still a great month to take a look back on the franchise’s most successful postseason run.
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- 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
Of course, we’re talking about the 2002-2003 season. After a 12-4 regular season record gave the Bucs a first-round bye, they played host to the fourth-seeded 49ers. San Francisco was fresh off of a big comeback win over the Giants, but Tampa Bay cruised to a 31-6 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
Brad Johnson threw for two scores and Mike Alstott added two on the ground. In addition to the two touchdowns, no. 40 put up 87 all-purpose yards. Keyshawn Johnson caught five passes for 85 yards, while Joe Jurevicius and Rickey Dudley each caught touchdowns.
Unsurprisingly, the defense was the big story. The dominant unit led by Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber held the 49ers to just 228 yards and two field goals. Brooks, Barber and Dwight Smith each picked off Jeff Garcia once, contributing to the five total turnovers forced by the Tampa Bay defense.
The 31-6 victory snapped a two-game playoff losing streak. It was the fourth postseason victory in franchise history, with the previous three also coming in front of the home fans. When the Bucs left the field on that second Sunday of 2003, they were looking forward to another shot at the same Philadelphia Eagles that beat them earlier in the season, as well as in the 2000 and 2001 playoffs.
Jon Gruden and his team had one week to prepare for Donovan McNabb and company. It was this date in history that the Bucs earned one more shot at the Eagles. As a bonus, they earned an opportunity to shut down Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium with an Eagles’ loss. I think we all remember what happened next…