We talk so much about offense and defense, but the Bucs best performance of Wild Card weekend may have come from their special teams. While the Bucs offense and defense efficiently handled their sides of the ball, it was special teams that came up with one of the biggest plays of the day. Thank you, Scotty Miller.
With 10:46 left in the third quarter, Eagles return man Jalen Reagor made a crucial mistake. After Reagor failed to call for a fair catch, Miller blasted him to force a fumble. Veteran Ross Cockrell curled around the loose football, giving the Bucs possession at the Eagles’ 48. Five plays later, Tampa Bay took a commanding 24-0 lead.
“That’s two for Scotty now,” Arians said in his postgame press conference. “I was very apprehensive about him being a gunner with his size. But, man, he’s turned out to be a heck of a gunner. That’s two fumbles causes and recoveries. He’s playing his ass off.”
This seasons’ motto? Stay ready. That’s something the 5-9, 174-pound wide receiver is no stranger to. Few are better at making their opportunities count, especially in the playoffs. How much did Miller’s big play spark a Bucs offense that had suffered three straight three-and-outs?
“It was a bunch,” Arians stated. “It was a bunch because we had a little struggle protecting there for a little while. [We] didn’t get ourselves in manageable third downs and we kind of got it cleaned up.”
“That was a big play,” Tom Brady said after the game. “It was great for us to be able to do that. You got to take advantage of [turnovers] when you get them, and we did for the most part. A couple of times we didn’t, but it was tough conditions out there. Kind of favored more of a running game with the wind, the way that played a factor. But, we found a way to play well against a really good football team.”
Miller’s big hit wasn’t the only great special teams play. Ryan Succop made all four of his extra point attempts and his only field goal, pouring in seven points. And Bradley Pinion had one of his better performances at punter, including launching a 61-yard boot. Outside of one Reagor return, the kick coverage was also excellent.
“It was a good game offensively and defensively,” Arians said. “But I think our special teams really played the best game of the year.”
The reigning Super Bowl champions will need the same detailed execution against the Rams in the divisional round this Sunday. When Tampa Bay plays strong across the board, they are a formidable team to face. Not only do we hope to see more Gunner Scotty, but maybe some 2021 NFC Championship Scotty to help the Bucs move on to round three.