Jackson earns Super Bowl MVP honors

Posted: Monday, January 27, 2003

Super Bowl MVPs

2003--Dexter Jackson, FS, Tampa Bay

2002--Tom Brady, QB, New England

2001--Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore

2000--Kurt Warner, QB, St. Louis

1999--John Elway, QB, Denver

1998--Terrell Davis, RB, Denver

1997--Desmond Howard, KR, Green Bay

1996--Larry Brown, CB, Dallas

1995--Steve Young, QB, San Francisco

1994--Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas

1993--Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas

1992--Mark Rypien, QB, Washington

1991--Ottis Anderson, RB, N.Y. Giants

1990--Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco

1989--Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco

1988--Doug Williams, QB, Washington

1987--Phil Simms, QB, N.Y. Giants

1986--Richard Dent, DE, Chicago

1985--Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco

1984--Marcus Allen, RB, L.A. Raiders

1983--John Riggins, RB, Washington

1982--Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco

1981--Jim Plunkett, QB, Oakland

1980--Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh

1979--Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh

1978--Randy White, DT and Harvey Martin, DE, Dallas

1977--Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Oakland

1976--Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh

1975--Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh

1974--Larry Csonka, RB, Miami

1973--Jake Scott, S, Miami

1972--Roger Staubach, QB, Dallas

1971--Chuck Howley, LB, Dallas

1970--Len Dawson, QB, Kansas City

1969--Joe Namath, QB, N.Y. Jets

1968--Bart Starr, QB, Green Bay

1967--Bart Starr, QB, Green Bay

SAN DIEGO -- Dexter Jackson played down his Super Bowl MVP award. He didn't mince words, however, about the Tampa Bay defense.

''We're one of the best of all-time. We're a great defense,'' Jackson said after the Buccaneers' 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. ''You never can say you're the best. We're one of the best. They know now, they know tonight, we're for real.''

The Bucs' defense, the NFL's top-rated unit this season, had five interceptions, the first two by Jackson, and five sacks. It also held the Raiders, the league's No. 1 offense, to 19 yards rushing and 11 first downs.

Jackson was only the eighth defensive player -- and third defensive back -- to win the MVP award in the 37-year history of this game and when he met the media, he wouldn't let go of the MVP trophy.

''I share this with the whole secondary,'' he said.

Jackson began Oakland's downfall when he intercepted Rich Gannon's pass on the last play of the first quarter. That started Tampa Bay on the way to Martin Gramatica's 43-yard field goal early in the second quarter that gave the Bucs the lead for good at 6-3.

On the next possession, Jackson picked off Gannon again, this time at the Oakland 45. The Bucs did not score on the ensuing possession but got the field position that led to Mike Alstott's touchdown that made it 13-3. When the Bucs scored again before halftime, the rout was on.

''Gannon throws 40 to 50 times. Opportunities came my way and I capitalized on it,'' Jackson said. ''During the season, people don't challenge our defense. He tried to make some plays, and I was able to capitalize.''

And the rout was on.

''Gannon started getting frustrated a lot, which led him into more trouble,'' said Jackson, who returned his interceptions for 34 yards and had two tackles. ''He was moving his feet a lot faster. He had happy feet.''

Jackson is in his fourth year in the NFL and his three interceptions this season were a career high. He also had 67 unassisted tackles during the season and was a key component of the No. 1 defense in the NFL, providing stability at free safety. His best game came against New Orleans early in the season when he made 10 tackles. His first interception of the season came in a Monday night game against St. Louis.

Jackson earned first-team honors on Florida's Class 4A all-state high school squad with over 1,000 yards passing and rushing his senior year. He passed for a total of 2,013 yards in his last two high school seasons. He was also a track star in high school and averaged 16.8 points per game for the basketball team. He said the change to defense was made because he had good hands.

When he got to Florida State, he became a defensive starter in the secondary and led it for four years with 194 tackles and seven interceptions.

But in the NFL, on a team dominated by defensive stars such as Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, Jackson was largely overlooked. The Bucs have four players heading to the Pro Bowl and Jackson isn't one of them.

On Sunday, he was overlooked again, this time by Gannon, and it led him to the MVP award.

''When I first came to the team I knew they had some great players like the Sapps, the Lynches and the Brookses,'' he said. ''These guys came from nothing and came together as a championship caliber team. I'm happy for the city of Tampa.''

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