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Bucs' top plays: Brooks' INT return

  USA TODAY Sports

This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. In the next two days, we’ll feature Ronde Barber’s interception return for a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game and the 71-yard catch by Joe Jurevicius in the same game. Please vote for your choice as the Buccaneers’ most memorable play.

Score: Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21

Date: Jan. 26, 2003 Site: Qualcomm Stadium

Description: The Bucs were already in good shape, holding a 34-21 fourth-quarter lead. But that’s when the signature play of this game came. Derrick Brooks picked off a Rich Gannon pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown that sealed the victory.

This play was about more than a simple interception return. It symbolized what the Bucs were all about. Brooks was the best player on a great defense, and that automatically made this play one of the most memorable in franchise history. Brooks had many other great plays in a Hall of Fame career, but this is the one most fans remember best because it came on the biggest of stages.

This game had a unique backstory. Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden had previously coached the Raiders and knew Oakland’s playbook and tendencies well. He spent the week leading into the Super Bowl playing the scout-team quarterback. That helped prepare the Bucs for everything Oakland threw at them.

The Bucs finished the game with five interceptions, but none was more symbolic than Brooks'.