Spectators often give all the credit for wins to either the offense of a team or the defense, rarely giving credit to the special teams. But in plenty of cases special teams can play a big role.
Special teams are important when it comes to field position, making sure that an offense is always set up with good field position, and it can also make sure that the opponent’s offense is set up with poor field position.
They can also provide the spark that fires up an entire team, and that is exactly what Michael Mauti did last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the fourth quarter of a tight game, when the Vikings punted the ball to Tampa Bay, Trindon Holliday fielded the punt and was bringing it back for a good return. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Mauti came in and hit him with one of the biggest hits by a Vikings player this year.
A lot of the guys, just like Mauti, are young players who are trying to prove themselves on special teams in hopes of earning more playing time on the field. Special teams is a place where those players will play and have a chance to develop into even better players. But with the limited amount of snaps they get on the field, they have to play as hard as they can every play to prove themselves.
“Just play like your hair is on fire and plays like that will come to you,” said Mauti. “Just play 100 percent and sometimes you will get them opportunities and you can make the most of it.
“That’s my job right now. To be in the NFL you have to continue to do it so I’ve done it and will hopefully get more opportunities.”
One reason that Mauti was able to deliver the hit that he did was because he did his job the way he was supposed to and because of that was where he needed to be. The part that often goes unnoticed, but is continually preached by the Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is that plays are often made because other players were doing their job.
“I think any time you get a big hit guys get excited, and he obviously did that,” Zimmer said. “But, again, other guys forced the ball to him and he was where he was supposed to be.”
In the game of football, big hits have the ability to fire up fans, players and whole teams. In watching the game, it was easy to see that excitement in both Mauti and his fellow teammates after that hit.
“That’s something that don’t come around very often,” said Mauti. “So you have to make the most of it, and that’s the most fun thing about football, is big hits.”
Mauti’s big hit excites him, teammates
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