Titans' trick play was cooked up by an old friend of Raheem Morris
When Bucs coach Raheem Morris played at Irvington (N.J.) High School, he played for coach Chet Parlavecchio, probably never dreaming they would one day face each other on opposite sidelines of an NFL field. But it happened, and this became an important subplot against the Titans.
As it turns out, it was Parlavecchio, a special teams assistant with Tennessee, who cooked up a beautifully timed reverse on a first-quarter kickoff return that resulted in a key Titans touchdown.
"I got outdone by my high school head coach," bemoaned Morris afterward. "Unbelievable, isn't it?"
On the play, Bucs kickoff specialist Mike Koenen and his cover men were attempting a right-side kickoff, putting the ball near the Bucs sideline. That's where return man Marc Mariani fielded it at the goal line and worked his way up the field. The Bucs had a wave of cover men converging to pin him against the sideline when he did the unexpected. At the Tennessee 16, Mariani stealthily handed the ball to DB Tommie Campbell, who was heading in the opposite direction. By the time the Bucs found the ball, they were in a footrace that they would lose, resulting in an 84-yard touchdown return for Campbell.
"It was a great call because nobody saw it," Bucs LB Adam Hayward said. "We were all running to where the ball was. We had no idea."
The play was called 37 Special. And it was exactly that.
"Once I got past the safety, I knew I had it," Campbell said.
"They've done a lot of tricks, but nothing like that," said Hayward, Tampa Bay's special teams captain. "We were expecting something else. It was perfect timing. It was a good call because we had people coming across the field (in the opposite direction) and they just walled us off."
And, for that, Morris can thank his old friend, Coach Parlavecchio.