TAMPA, Fla. — How long does it take to break the hearts of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their fans?
How about 21 seconds?
That was the time it took kick returner Eric Weems to wander up the right sidelines, shed tackles like Madonna sheds lovers, and, 102 yards later, stagger into the end zone and cut the heart out of the Bucs and their fans.
Weems’ record-setting kickoff return shaved a 10-point Tampa Bay lead to three and was the launch point from where the Falcons would complete another comeback win with a stunning 28-24 victory.
“It was huge, an unbelievable change in momentum,” Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said. “They went down and they scored and put us behind two scores and immediately following that we ran the kick back. Special teams jump-started us today.”
On the sidelines, before he went on the field with the rest of the special teams unit, Weems knew it was time to do something special.
“In the huddle we were determined, guys were saying ‘Bring it out, we gotcha’. I could tell by the look in their eyes that they were ready. It was our time and we needed a big momentum swing. Guys got big blocks for me and they guided me all the way to the end zone.
“At about 90 yards, I got a little tired but the guys kept getting their blocks right behind me and got me into the end zone.”