Steve Tasker caught 20 passes that (1995) season for 255 yards with three touchdowns. He collected the first 100-yard game of his career in the playoffs against the Dolphins, highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown reception.
The Bills played angry all season, winning 12 games, another AFC East title and another AFC championship. But the season would end yet again with another Super Bowl, this time by a 30-13 count to the Cowboys.
Bill Bates and Steve Tasker were two of the greatest special-teams aces in NFL history. Both retired in 1998. I asked them then what the toughest part of their job was and both gave me the same answer – convincing a new group of teammates each year that what they do on special teams is important.
Buffalo’s backup quarterback Frank Reich then took charge, throwing three touchdown passes in the third quarter to pull the Bills back to 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter. He threw another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and the Bills wound up winning in overtime, 41-38.
Bryant caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and an NFL-leading 16 touchdowns in his contract year in 2014. But in the three seasons since then, Bryant has caught a combined 17 TD passes. He was a league-leader in dropped passes in 2017.
Steve Tasker was drafted by the Houston Oilers and spent a season and a half there before being waived. He was claimed by Buffalo where coach Marv Levy, one of the NFL’s original special teams coaches, had a plan for Tasker.
Dez Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015 but did not manage 1,000 yards or 10-plus touchdowns in any of the three seasons since agreeing to his new deal. The Cowboys were not getting the expected bang for their bucks, so Bryant became a salary-cap casualty.
The Denver Broncos have lived and died by their pass rush in recent seasons and GM John Elway gave it a little more teeth when he selected the draft’s best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State, with that fifth pick.
Jimmie Giles played 13 seasons and went to four Pro Bowls, catching 350 passes for 5,084 yards and 41 touchdowns. Those numbers pale in comparisons to the Rob Gronkowskis and Travis Kelces of today’s NFL. But that’s not what he was asked to do at his position in 1977.
What talent evaluators did not identify in Jason Witten back in 2003 was the desire and work ethic to become the best player he could be. Over the next 15 years in Dallas he became a model of consistency and productivity.
The Denver Broncos have lived and died by their pass rush in recent seasons and GM John Elway gave it a little more teeth when he selected the draft’s best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State, with the fifth overall pick.
Suepr Bowl XXI was the New York Giants first NFL championship game victory in 30 years. Mark Bavaro played a key role in making it possible with a TD catch but mostly with some crushing blocks that exposed the Broncos’ defense.