The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders have earned a trip to Super Bowl XXXVII next Sunday in San Diego, California.
Oakland reached the league championship game by defeating the visiting Tennessee Titans, 41-24, in the American Conference title game Sunday. The NFL's most valuable player, 37-year-old quarterback Rich Gannon, threw 41 times for 286 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the Raiders' leading rusher with 42 yards.
The Raiders took the lead for good late in the second quarter, when Eric Barton stripped Tennessee's Robert Holcombe, giving Oakland the ball at the Tennessee 16-yard line. Two plays later, Gannon hit tight end Doug Jolly for a score and a 21-17 lead.
Oakland, returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 19 years, will seek its fourth championship. The Raiders will face their former head coach, John Gruden, who is in his first year with Tampa Bay.
Earlier, The Buccaneers earned their first Super Bowl berth in franchise history by beating the host Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, in the final game played at Veterans Stadium.
The Buccaneers showed why their defense is ranked number one in the National Football League. After being stunned by a Philadelphia touchdown in the first minute of the National Football Conference championship game, the Bucs' defense shut down quarterback Donovan McNabb and the Eagles' offense.
Tampa's Mike Alstott scored on a one-yard run at the end of a 96-yard drive in the first quarter, highlighted by 71-yard catch-and-run by Joe Jurevicius. Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson in the second quarter, and Ronde Barber's 92-yard interception return with just over three minutes remaining in the game clinched a trip to the Super Bowl.
Johnson completed 20-of-33 pass attempts for 259 yards. The victory ends postseason frustration for the Bucs, who were knocked out of the playoffs in each of the last two years by the Eagles. The win was also a rare victory for the Florida-based team when playing in below-freezing weather conditions.