1-25-03, 10 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Marvin Lewis thinks Oakland is going to win Sunday's Super Bowl. But the Bengals head coach won't kid you. He wants them to.
Raiders free safety Rod Woodson helped Lewis pitch a shutout two years ago when the Giants only scored on a kickoff return in the Ravens' Super Bowl victory. While he was the Ravens defensive coordinator, Lewis also got a trip to Hawaii from Woodson as a thank you for his Pro Bowl berth.
"I hope they win because of Rod," Lewis said. "It would be testimony to what an awesome player
he is and how much he means to a team. A lot of guys have gone to Hawaii because Rod is on the field."
Lewis, already doffing that defensive hat, thinks the Raiders' offense might be too much to handle for Tampa Bay.
"The Raiders can score and I think Tampa doesn't have as much offensive creativity as do the Raiders. Plus, the Raiders have a number of guys on defense who have been there."
Lewis can see a scenario where Tampa Bay can hurt the Raiders on offense and defense.
"The Raiders are going to be able to sit on Tampa's receivers. That won't be a problem," Lewis said. "The Raiders are going to run those zone blitzes and you might be able to pop some of those for seven to 10 yards. If Tampa can run, it can open up something for their receivers.
"The one thing in Tampa's favor is the Raiders don't have a vertical offense. The Raiders' strength is passing, but that's a strength of Tampa. (Bucs defensive tackle) Warren Sapp can create some mismatches and his penetration can open it up for (defensive end) Simeon Rice."
But Lewis thinks Woodson and the Raiders' band of Hall-of-Famers will prevail. Lewis' new defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, isn't so sure. His Eagles lost to the Buccaneers in last Sunday's NFC championship game.
"Everybody is saying the Raiders will score too many points for Tampa," Frazier said. "But what if it's like baseball in the postseason? Good pitching always stops good hitting."