NFL London 2011: Brad Johnson confident of Tampa Bay win

By Ian ShoesmithBBC Sport
LeGarrette Blount scores for Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount scores earlier this season against Minnesota

Tampa Bay great Brad Johnson believes his old team will put on a better show at Wembley on Sunday than two years ago, when they lost to New England.

Quarterback Johnson, who won the Super Bowl in 2003, expects the game against the Chicago Bears to be a lot tighter.

"The Bucs were in transition - that year they won three games. Last year they won 10," he told BBC Sport.

"But now the Bucs are an up-and-coming team. So hopefully they'll get it together and come away with a big win."

Tampa are top of the NFC South with four wins from their six matches, while Chicago are 3-3.

The Bears trail defending Super Bowl champions Green Bay (6-0) and this year's surprise outfit Detroit (5-1) in the NFC North.

"Both teams ended up with a win last week. They get a bye next week, so you want to finish with a win," Johnson said.

Recalling the 35-7 hammering dished out by New England, he added: "The Patriots were the best team in the league at that time, and the hottest team, so it probably wasn't a fair assessment of where the Bucs were."

Brad Johnson playing for Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnson led Tampa Bay to victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII

Johnson, who threw two touchdowns and 215 yards in the Buccaneers' 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, retired from the sport two years ago but is still remembered fondly by fans in northwest Florida.

His career took off after a 10-game season with the London Monarchs in the now-defunct NFL Europe development league in 1995.

"I loved playing over here," he said during a promotional visit to the House of Commons to further boost the sport's profile in the UK.

"I enjoyed my experience and got to see a different part of the world that I never would have were it not for football.

"We played in Scotland, over in Germany and in Amsterdam. We lived in Crystal Palace - it was a great experience."

Johnson said knowledge of the game among UK fans had increased exponentially since 1995.

"It's awesome to see how far it's come. Back then, people were getting more excited about a punt and the flight of the ball and long bombs, instead of how the game was actually played.

"But now people are starting to understand the rules and the way the game is played and people are following it. There are fan clubs of American teams now, with people travelling to the States to see it. So it's pretty awesome to see how far it has come along."

Much has been made of the fact that the Bucs decided to fly over to London on Monday, straight after their impressive week six victory over New Orleans.

The Bears, meanwhile, decided to arrive on Thursday but Johnson does not expect the different approach to make a major difference.

"It's going to come down to who has the best team, who makes the plays," he said.

"Obviously the Bucs came over a couple of years ago [shortly before the game], and played badly. This time they just wanted to break the monotony, come over here and make a week of it and get the guys adjusted."

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