TAMPA, Fla. — Flanked by a swarm of press — the kind of welcome normally earmarked for celebrity players — Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Andrew Adams glanced down at the tape on both wrists where he’d composed”4:13,” reciting the words into Philippians 4:13, also beamed.
“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. My mother sends me this text before each game [and] I write it on my tape just to remember,” he said.
Sunday’s 24-17 triumph against the Carolina Panthers was one to remember for its 26-year-old safety, who had been waived from the New York Giants in September and worked outside for five distinct teams.
“You know you are a soccer player. Why are you watching games on Sunday? Why are you not playing?” Adams said of the time drifting between teams. “it is somewhat demoralizing, however, you can not let it get to you.”
It was the type of sport that an undrafted free agent cast-off dreams about. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter gave Adams three game balls to represent every choice.
“You dream about interceptions, but three in 1 game? No,” said Adams, who signed with the Bucs on Sept. 25 and had only 1 choice in 38 career games before Sunday. “However, it is only a blessing.
It did take some divine intervention for it to occur.
The Bucs were down to one defensive back of the five who had started the season — safety Justin Evans — and he had left the game with a toe injury. Safety Isaiah Johnson, who started four games this past year, was being assessed for a concussion, and the Bucs had to turn to their third, fourth and fifth safeties and their fifth, sixth and seventh cornerbacks.
They also had only one starting linebacker at Lavonte David. That made Adams, who defensive coordinator Mark Duffner produced a distinctive dime package for out of necessity due to so many injuries, that much more vital.
“He [Adams] played all over now,” David said. … it is a testament to the way he prepares and he studies”
On the second one, Adams was coming down in the slot, using nickelback Javien Elliott blitzing, and the Panthers attempted to use a double move (post-corner). Adams sat on the route and leaped up to grab the ball meant for Jarius Wright.
On the next choice, together with 5:15 to go, Adams was at the center of the field and Newton attempted to look off him one way and throw down the seam another, but Adams stayed disciplined. When Newton threw it, then he dove for it.
“When you get a shot, when you receive a shot like this, particularly [later ] getting released, guy — he had a lot to prove and that he just came out here and did his job,” said former Giants teammate Jason Pierre-Paul. I am so happy for him. You just don’t understand how much.”
Quarterback Jameis Winston, who now calls Adams”Triple A” (rather than his normal nickname of Double A) added:”I love it. That is just so resilient, you understand? The game we play we need to be resilient, so we have to persevere through anything”
Adams said that he never lost faith.
“You can not let hard circumstances set you. At any time you get your opportunity, you only need to take advantage of it. That is what I live by.”