Impactful Players to Watch on Sunday
2009 FILE/MARK HUMPHREY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Leading up to Super Bowl XLIII The only question on people's minds was whether it would be the wiley veteran and future Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner, or the 26-year-old QB from the “other” Miami university, Ben Roethlisburger, that would come out on top. But no one could have predicted the play that everyone would be talking about 24 hours later. The Cardinals were on the doorstep of taking the lead going into half time. With only 18 seconds left James Harrison stepped in front of a quick slant at the goal line and proceeded to bumble and stumble (conjuring up my inner Chris Berman) for the longest scoring play in Super Bowl history. Harrison who wouldn’t be named MVP of SB XLIII, that honor would be given to the tippy toes of Santonio Holmes, had what many consider to be the most impactful play of the game. Instead of going down 14-10, there was a reversal of fortune and the Steelers now led by 10 going into the Bruce Springsteen half time show.
When the Buccaneers face the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening many will wonder who is going to provide that spark, that game defining play, that Harrison type moment. In years past we have seen the likes of David Tyree’s helmet catch, Malcom Butlers interception at the goal line or even Thurman Thomas’s fumble and subsequent return by James Washington. These moments will forever be known as some of the most impactful plays in Super bowl history. But now another Super Bowl awaits, and as we crown a new champion on Sunday night, what play will we discuss Monday morning. What player has the chance to be that shining star and make an impact on the game. You could easily name Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans or the age-defying Tom Brady as such a player, but we think there are some under the radar players, you might just want to keep your eye on.
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It’s not a secret that the KC O-line has been decimated by injuries and a couple players opting out even before the 2020 campaign got underway. My choice for an impact player, or a player to watch is right tackle, Mike Remmers. Remmers, a graduate of Oregon State and eight year journeyman who has bounced around the league a bit with stints in Carolina, Minnesota and a quick cup of coffee with the Giants before finding a home with the Chiefs. He’s played multiple positions on that line this year and could be a stop leak for Andy Reid and company if one of the chiefs linemen goes down. Remmers offers flexibility at the guard position, playing on both sides’ multiple times this season. His name may not end up in the box score, but his impact will be felt. On a battered offensive line, look for number 75 to be the impactful player that no one talks about on the Chiefs offense. If wars are won in the trenches, then Remmers might just be the guy to lead the charge during the Battle in the Bay Sunday night.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen (Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
There is always something about an undrafted player. The determination that it takes to earn a roster spot is commendable. From the practice squad, to preseason games, time is limited to make a name for yourself and stand out. Much like James Harrison who we mentioned earlier, Dan Sorenson the starting safety for the Chiefs could make that impact play that changes the flow of the game. He was the one who made the controversial hit that forced the turnover and touchback in the divisional round against the Browns. He’s already made one impact play, who says another one isn’t in his sights. Sorenson, a seven-year player from BYU, led the Super Bowl champions with 91 tackles in the regular season. Sorenson will play a part in this game, whether it be with a timely hit, or a turnover. His impact could be the one that fills the sports radio airwaves come Monday morning.
Cameron Brate/Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Cameron Brate is the guy on a loaded offense that could be that dark horse impact player. Brate, a 2014 undrafted tight end out of Harvard, isn’t quite a household name like a lot of the other stars in this game. With familiar names like Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, you would be excused if Brate didn’t roll off your tongue as an impact player. However, Brate has become a comfortable target for Tom Brady in the latter half of the season and even into the playoffs. With 11 receptions in the post season he has separated himself as the go-to tight end. But this wasn’t the case earlier in the season. The somewhat forgotten man in an offense littered with all-pro’s, future hall of famers and pro-bowlers, Brate would have seemed to be the odd man out. Like we said before, there’s something about undrafted players, they just seemed to be wired differently. Brate fought, scrapped and clung to every opportunity he was given. With a career low in targets, it’s a wonder how this Ivy Leaguer kept his head on straight and is now poised to be an impact player in the most important game of his career. When the box scores finally come in, it won’t be the difficult name to spell that usually tops the TE leader board, it will probably be a new one.
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If we love undrafted players standing tall and making a name for themselves, there is a special place for legacy players. With the 45th pick in the 2020 draft, the Buccaneers got one of the best young talents in the league – Antione Winfield Jr. If you think that name sounds vaguely familiar, you would be correct. He is the son of Antione Winfield Sr., who had an accomplished 14-year career spending nine of those with the Minnesota Vikings. The 3x pro-bowler has watched his son do something that eluded him during his career – make a trip to the Super Bowl. Winfield Jr. made his respect and love for his father apparent following the playoff victory against the Saints on January 17th when he tweeted “Made some grown men cry last night and don’t feel bad about it. That was for my pops back in 2009." Winfield was referring to the 2009 NFC title game where the Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings taking away his father’s best chance of reaching the Super Bowl. Winfield missed the NFC championship game with an ankle injury, but if early indications are correct, this former Gopher will be ready to go. This rookie safety accumulated 94 tackles, 3 turnovers this season with his latest one coming in the divisional round against the Saints when he caused a Jared Cook fumble during the second half. If Winfield can get on the field for Super Bowl LV, don’t be surprised to see a huge hit, or a timely turnover by one of the leagues brightest young stars.
When all of the fanfare of this week subsides and all that is left are two teams standing across from one another ready and waiting to lift the Lombardi Trophy, one thing is for certain, there will be one play, one moment, one difference maker that propels their team into Super Bowl immortality. Who will that player be? No one really knows. But I can assure you, Monday morning the airwaves won’t be silent, there will be plenty to talk about.
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