Although it is one-third of the game, special teams is a facet of football often overlooked by casual fans and observers. Under head coach Marv Levy, a former special teams coach, the Buffalo Bills did not overlook this important part of the game, and it showed in their play.
Steve Tasker and Mark Pike, the two top special teams performers on those great Bills squads of yesteryear, were among those named to Rick Gosselin’s list of the best special teams contributors in NFL history. The reporter for The Dallas Morning News has compiled a list of rankings for special teams groups every year since 1980, and he is often viewed as the foremost authority on special teams play among members of the NFL’s media contingent.
He named Tasker to his first-team, saying that the Bills’ coverage ace was “the Swiss-Army knife of special teams,” referring to Tasker’s ability to do it all on special teams. He returned both kicks and punts in his career while also serving as a dynamic coverage player on both kicks and punts. Gosselin even notes that Tasker served as both the personal protector on punts and as the holder on placements during his illustrious 13-year career. Tasker totaled 186 special-teams tackles as a member of the Bills.
While he was overshadowed by Tasker during his time in Buffalo, Pike was another fantastic special teams contributor. He actually had more special teams tackles than Tasker in his career, amassing an astounding 255 over 11 seasons, according to Gosselin. Pike led the Bills in special teams tackles in seven of his final eight years. The 6’4”, 272-pound linebacker/defensive end was a ferocious player on Buffalo’s “third” unit, and he was a key contributor on all four of the Bills’ AFC championship teams in the 1990s. Gosselin did not name Pike to his first-team or his second-team, but instead named Pike as a “wild card” contributor to round out a 53-man roster of specialists.
Gosselin’s nod to both standout Bills performers is another reminder of just how good that Bills team was during the ‘90s.