SAN DIEGO, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay defensive back Dexter Jackson Monday had his own stage as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII.
Jackson had two interceptions in the first half to set the tone in the Buccaneers' 48-21 rout of Oakland on Sunday night.
Many expected perennial Pro Bowlers such as Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch to represent Tampa Bay's top-ranked defense, but instead it was Jackson, who completed his second season as the team's starting free safety.
"We have guys like Derrick Brooks and John Lynch and Sapp that are great leaders, but it's more than just those guys," Jackson said at a news conference honoring the Super Bowl MVP and the winning coach. "Everyone here looks at each other as an individual, and when you have everyone having the same mindset that we're a team and no one's better than nobody else, everything just gels together and it's terrific."
Coach Jon Gruden attracted most of the microphones during Super Bowl week since he was facing the team that sold him to Tampa Bay last February for the exorbitant price of four draft picks and $8 million.
Monday, he refused to gloat.
"I'm going to leave everybody else to talk about their team. I'm done with that," Gruden said. "It was a very tough week for me addressing those questions."
When asked if he received a congratulatory call from Raiders owner Al Davis, Gruden said, "No, I didn't get any calls. You know that."
The team set a Super Bowl record with five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, and recorded five sacks.
Nickel back Dwight Smith became the first player in Super Bowl history to return two interceptions for touchdowns, but both came in the second half after the Bucs already had built a 24-point lead.
Defensive end Simeon Rice was runnerup in the MVP balloting with two sacks, both coming in the first half.
Jackson could not have timed his MVP performance better. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. The last defensive back to win the award was cornerback Larry Brown of Dallas, who had two interceptions in Super Bowl XXX.
Ironically, Brown also was in his free agent year and received a five-year, $12 million contract from the Raiders.
Davis probably will not be courting Jackson because his team is about $40 million over the salary cap for next season.