While Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin may have only played a couple of snaps on defense this season—with very little success, I might add—he has been an integral part of the team’s special teams efforts this year.
That was, after all, the reason he made the 53-man roster as a mini-camp tryout undrafted rookie last season, and he’s been there since. He only played about a dozen or so snaps on defense and failed to register a tackle, but that was far from the case on special teams.
Garvin serves on all of the primary kicking and return units, and though he is a bit better running down returners than blocking for them, he certainly played a key role in setting up the Steelers’ first special teams return touchdown of the season.
It was, of course, Antonio Brown with the ball in his hands the first time the Steelers scored on special teams on a return, which he did in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. It actually was not the Steelers’ first special teams score of the year, however. In the third game of the season, they recovered a fumbled on a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
This was a more traditional special teams score, with Brown earning his third punt return for a touchdown of his career—all of which came against the Bengals, at home, in December. The Bengals punted from the 16, and Brown fielded it at the 29 to the left of the hash marks. Garvin chipped off one defender as Brown ran to his right, but when he cut back to the left, Garvin stayed with it, throwing another block to help Brown gain the left sideline.
Garvin then made the primary tackle on the Steelers’ ensuing kickoff following the punt return touchdown. Serving as the first player to the kicker’s left, Garvin maintained his gap until the returner gained ground as he sharply cut inside to lay down a big hit in conjunction with Vince Williams.
The Steelers netted a field goal midway through the second quarter, this time outside of Williams as the player second-nearest to the kicker on the left side on the kickoff. He consistently stayed in front of the play and, as he typically does, wound up right around the ball, jumping on the pile, although he wasn’t officially credited for an assist.
At the end of the first half, the Steelers faced a similar scenario, with Garvin right around the ball on the kickoff after a field goal, even if he didn’t official make the tackle. He controlled the gap to help funnel the returner into the mass of Steeelers.
After jumping ahead by 10 points late in the fourth quarter, Garvin got an assist on the final kickoff of the game, taking on a blocker to keep the returner in his lane as Robert Golden came in first, with Garvin coming off the block to help finish the stop.