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Bucs’ Vita Vea makes history as NFL’s biggest receiver

The Bucs 347-pound defensive lineman caught a one-yard touchdown pass when the Falcons ignore him coming out of the backfield.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Vita Vea (50)celebrates his touchdown catch during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Atlanta. [CURTIS COMPTON  |  AP]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Vita Vea (50)celebrates his touchdown catch during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Atlanta. [CURTIS COMPTON | AP]
Published Nov. 25, 2019
Updated Nov. 25, 2019

ATLANTA — Is it possible to be a secret weapon when you’re pushing 350 pounds?

Because it sure looked like the Falcons had no idea Vita Vea was even on the field when the Bucs lined up for a goal-line situation late in the second quarter of Sunday’s 35-22 victory.

With Vea lined up as a fullback, Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell ran right past him to chase quarterback Jameis Winston. Vea scooted as unobtrusively as a defensive lineman can into the end zone and was all alone for his first NFL touchdown reception.

“I still don’t believe it. It just still feels kind of surreal to me. I’m still kind of taking the moment in,’’ Vea said. “I’m excited to look at my phone and see what all my family and loved ones have to say.”

At 347 pounds, NFL.com reported that Vea is the heaviest player to score an offensive touchdown in league history, although that seems more like a scale malfunction because Bears defensive lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry certainly looked bigger in the 1980s.

This weighty matter should not have come as a surprise to the Falcons. The Bucs have used Vea as a blocker in goal-line situations and, having heard tales of his prowess as an oversized running back in high school, it wasn’t difficult to envision this moment.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said they put the play in at practice on Friday.

“Just looking at their goal-line situation, I thought he’d pop out of there pretty clean,’’ Arians said. “It was the perfect time.’’

Just to make his afternoon complete, Vea batted down two passes and got a sack during his normal working hours on the defensive line.

“Yeah, there was a lot of weird (expletive) in this game,’’ Arians said.

John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

• • •

He ain’t heavy...

Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea is the heaviest NFL player to score a touchdown, according to NFL Research. Here’s a list of the heaviest:

Season Player Team Weight
2019 Vita Vea Tampa Bay 347
2003 Jonathan Ogden Baltimore 340
2014 Donald Penn Oakland 340
2013 Donald Penn Tampa Bay 340
2010 Andrew Whitworth Cincinnati 335
1985 William Perry Chicago 335

Source: NFL Research

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