January 22 2003
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS KEENAN McCARDELL KNOCKS OFF OAKLAND RAIDERS CHARLIE GARNER AT THE 989 SPORTS® EIGHTH ANNUAL GAME BEFORE THE GAME®
Perfect 7 of the Previous 7 Winners of the Game Before the Game, Played on NFL GameDay™ 2003 from 989 Sports, Have Gone on to Victory in the Super Bowl
SAN DIEGO, January 22, 2003 – The match-up of the NFL’s top ranked offense against the NFL’s league leading defense had a decisive winner at the eighth annual 989 Sports® Game Before the Game®, as Keenan McCardell led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a convincing 28-8 victory over Charlie Garner and the Oakland Raiders onNFL GameDay™ 2003 for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system.
Billed as the “leading Super Bowl indicator” by NFL Hall-of-Famer and Game Before the Game co-host, Lynn Swann, the game was played in front of a packed house at the W Hotel in downtown San Diego. The standing room only crowd was treated to an impressive display of defense as McCardell and the Buccaneers’ devastating pass rush proved to be too much for Garner and the Raiders.
At the beginning of the game, though, it appeared that the Raiders would be able to move the ball on the Buccaneers, as Garner moved his team deep into Buccaneers territory. However, the Bucs top ranked defense finally got the best of NFL MVP QB Rich Gannon, as cornerback Brian Kelly picked off the Raiders’ quarterback on the Bucs’ 14 yard line. McCardell and the Buccaneers proceeded to go 86 yards for a score capped off by a Michael Pittman 6 yard touchdown run.
Garner was quick to strike back, as he made the smart decision of getting the ball into a future Hall-of-Famer’s hands. WR Jerry Rice caught two long passes, including a 26 yard touchdown, and with the two point conversion, the Raiders took an 8-7 lead late in the second quarter. With less than a minute remaining in the half, McCardell started calling his own number, as QB Brad Johnson threw a 50 yard bomb to the wide receiver for a touchdown, as the Buccaneers went to intermission with a 14-8 lead.
McCardell came out of the locker room with the plan of continuing to find his own number. Johnson and McCardell hooked up for another scoring pass, giving the Bucs a commanding 21-8 lead. It looked as if Garner would make a game of it, though, as a steady diet of completions to Rice led the Raiders down to the Tampa Bay 15 yard line. The top rated defense came up big again, as the defensive line knocked down three straight passes, and on the game-turning fourth down play, linebacker Shelton Quarles blitzed and tackled Gannon for a sack.
McCardell and the Bucs continued to have success through the air, as Johnson found TE Ken Dilger for a 50 yard touchdown pass for the final score of the game. In the end, the Bucs defense forced the Raiders into two turnovers, and Johnson had an impressive day, pacing the offense with over 200 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“Charlie and I knew the stakes coming into the game tonight,” said 2003 Game Before the Game winner, McCardell. “We both know that Sunday is the real big game, but knowing the success of this event, winning this one tonight definitely makes me feel good.”
||Troy Brown, New England Patriots
||Qadry Ismail, Baltimore Ravens
||Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams
||John Mobley, Denver Broncos
||Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos
||Edgar Bennet, Green Bay Packers
||Charles Haley, Dallas Cowboys