During a leisurely Saturday in Philadelphia, DT Warren Sapp heard that he had repeated as an AP All-Pro first team choice
At some point in the wee hours of Saturday morning, it began to snow in Philadelphia. By late afternoon, not only had it not stopped, but the snowstorm was picking up steam.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could watch it all through their hotel windows. Needless to say, that's a far sight better than watching it from a plane window, looking for a place to land.
It was, of course, an abrupt and forced decision for the Buccaneers to head north on Friday night, as there was the threat of the Philadelphia airport closing on Saturday. As hectic as that made Friday evening for some, it has proven to be a blessing in disguise on Saturday.
Fifty-three Buc players and 15 coaches are holed up in their Philadelphia hotel, with the snow nothing more than a pretty show outside the glass and every television tuned in to the first day of Wild Card playoffs. The Bucs are, truth be told, quite comfortable, and Head Coach Tony Dungy's prediction that the change of plans would be no distraction is proving prophetic.
"I don't think it is," said Dungy, who spent the afternoon with his sons, James and Eric, watching the Colts and Dolphins square off. "I think it's tough on the families when you have to leave a day early. But once we got in the air and got into our routine, we were fine. We've done this before, we did it for the NFC Championship Game. I think it will actually be a little more relaxing for the guys.
"Rather than coming in and figuring out what we were going to have to do in a snowstorm, get on a sloppy bus ride or anything like that, we're already here. That's good. If we win, I think our guys are going to want to do this every week."
And the Bucs are at no disadvantage, preparation-wise, being away from home for an extra half-day. Like any NFL team, Tampa Bay is practiced in bringing every necessity on the road, from a makeshift training room to cases full of video equipment.
"From that standpoint, we're all set," said Dungy. "Guys can get whatever treatment they want and we've got all our video stuff here. Guys can study or do whatever they need to do. It's just that one night that they didn't get to spend with their families."
It was mostly a day of leisure for the 53 Bucs in Philly, but at least three team members received some very exciting news.
LB Derrick Brooks, S John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp have all been named to the AP All-Pro first-team squad. This is the second straight season that this trio from the Bucs' defense has been thus honored.
Second-year K Martin Gramatica was named to the AP All-Pro second team.
The AP All-Pro team is actually a more exclusive squad than the NFC Pro Bowl team, as only one player is chosen to the All-Pro team at each of the starting 22 positions (plus kicking and return specialists).
The Buccaneers had more players named to the AP All-Pro squad than any other team in the NFC. The AFC's Tennessee Titans had the most players named to the first team, with four, while the Baltimore Ravens matched Tampa Bay with three selections.
Has Coach Dungy's emphasis on the running game proven to be a reliable offensive strategy?
Consider that seven of the top 10 rushing teams in 2000 made it into the playoffs, including the ninth-ranked Buccaneers. The Raiders, Saints, Vikings, Ravens, Broncos and Titans are also on that list. The only top-10 rushing squads not to earn a postseason berth were the Bengals, Steelers and Jaguars.
Philadelphia was not among the league's top 10, ranking 15th, a mark that was due in no small part to the outstanding rushing ability of QB Donovan McNabb. However, the Eagles do have the distinction of owning the most sizeable offensive line still in action.
The Eagles starting front five of tackles Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas, guards Jermane Mayberry and John Welbourn and center Bubba Miller weighs in at a per-player average of 325.4 pounds.
On that list of 12 playoff teams, the Buccaneers slide in at sixth, as their front five runs an average of 312.0 pounds. The lightest offensive line still in the running belongs to Denver, which has an average lineman weight of 289.6 pounds but is also the league's second-best rushing team.
One of the Bucs' few reprentations in the NFL's all-time playoff records book was erased on Saturday.
Miami RB Lamar Smith carried the ball 40 times in the Dolphins' 23-17 overtime win over Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, setting a new NFL postseason record. His final carry was the game-winning touchdown run.
That record used to belong to former Buccaneer RB Ricky Bell, who took 38 handoffs in Tampa Bay's 24-17 Divisional Playoffs win over Philadelphia on December 29, 1979. The mark had been equaled once but never surpassed until Saturday.