A revamped Buccaneer offense and a tough hard-nosed defense came into Veteran’s Stadium and upset an Eagles team that thought they were Superbowl-bound.
In the beginning the Eagles jumped out of the gates with a Brian Mitchell 70-yd kick-off return and a TD run by running back Duce Staley. Once the Buccaneers answered with a 71-yd reception by receiver Joe Jurevicius and a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Mike Alstott, the momentum of the game was apparent.
Because the Eagles played a vanilla first half defense, opting against the blitz, Bucs’ quarterback Brad Johnson was able to attack the Eagles’ defense with short passes in the flat. The Bucs’ defense shut down Eagle’s quarterback Donovan McNabb and caused two fumbles in the third quarter. Buc’s cornerback Ronde Barber ended all chances of an Eagles fourth quarter comeback with a 92-yd interception for a touchdown late in the quarter. Under the Bucs’ pressure Donovan McNabb showed signs of rust after an eight-week lay-off, missing blitz routes, and making late throws. With the Bucs’ 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter and the leagues top ranked defense, it proved to be too much for the Eagles.
While one of the leagues top defenses caused problems on the east coast, one of the top-rated offenses caused similar problems for the Titans in the west. The Raiders came out and changed the pace of the game with a no-huddle offense and ended with a 14-7 first quarter lead. Even though the Raiders gave the Titans the gift of four first downs off penalties, the Titans had two turnovers and gave the Raiders 10 points in 60 seconds in the first half. While Titans’ quarterback Steve McNair rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another, the potent Raiders offense scored 17 points in the second half alone, blowing out the Titans 41-24.
This makes for a dream match-up between Buccaneer Head Coach John Gruden versus his former team, the Oakland Raiders, and also matches the Raiders high scoring offense against the league’s toughest defense.

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