It was not just a fumble by the way, it was punched out of Cook’s hands. It was a stellar defensive play by Winfield, like an interception. It was not a given the Saints would have scored, they were not even in field goal range at the time.
You could play the “if” game with any close game. What if Dwight Clark dropped the winning TD in the Championship game? What if the Ravens did not block the field goal and return it 90 yards for a TD in the 4th quarter against the Titans? Examples from Super Bowls: Butler’s interception, Tyree’s helmet catch, Montana’s 98-yard drive, Smith’s end zone drop against the Steelers, Dyson barely missing the end zone, the Steelers blocking the punt against the Cowboys, Harrison’s 100 yard interception against the Cardinals, Vinatieri, Porter intercepting Peyton, etc.
The Bucs had to win three playoff games on the road. The Super Bowl game was not close. It was an amazing accomplishment to hold the defending Super Bowl champs without a TD.
Who knows how the Bucs would have done against other Super Bowl teams. I would not toss them aside so easily because they had to make big plays to get to the Super Bowl. The great teams find a way to win. I do know that the Bucs reached their peak at precisely the right time, and in the Super Bowl, they were truly unstoppable.
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