From the moment the Seahawks trounced the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the comparisons to past defensive juggernauts began.
And one of the best defenses in the NFL has been largely overlooked in the process: The 2002 Buccaneers.
The latest example came as ESPN’s The Sports Reporters went to break, with host John Saunders saying, “Seattle’s defense put on a devastating show in Super Bowl XLVIII, right up there with the Steel Curtain, the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears, and Ray Lewis’ Ravens. Can they keep it up next year?”
While it may have been merely an oversight, it’s become a common one. As pundits compare the Seahawks to great defenses of the past, they overlook the one that Tony Dungy built and Jon Gruden rode to the only recent blowout win in the Super Bowl before last Sunday. Like Super Bowl XLVIII, Super Bowl XXXVII which also featured the No. 1 defense taking apart the No. 1 offense.
The Buccaneeers defense was likely better than the 2000 Ravens and comparable to the 1985 Bears, with two Hall of Famers (Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks), more coming (John Lynch and Ronde Barber), and another who has a good case for eventual enshrinement (Simeon Rice).
So as we look back through the annals of the Super Bowl, let’s not forget the team that joined the NFL with the Seahawks way back in 1976. By the time all the bronze busts are sculpted, the 2002 Bucs could be the only team that can stack up with the Steelers of the ’70s.