Bryant Wishes He Could Have Gotten A Shot
Matt Bryant liked his chances from 58 yards out. Punter Josh Bidwell thought the Bucs' place-kicker would have been good from even farther. "I would say a 60-yarder," Bidwell said. "He would have had a legit shot. I was really itching for us just to get it up there to try at least a 60 [yard attempt]."
Bryant never got a chance to test his distance on a game-winning field goal attempt. With no timeouts and six seconds remaining, Bucs quarterback Brian Griese completed a 26-yard pass to Joey Galloway in the middle of the field on Tampa Bay's final play of the game. "Sitting there on the sideline, I thought we were going to get a chance to [try]," Bryant said. "It just felt like one of those days where we were going to get a chance, but we ran out of time. The balls were going well that way, plus you get a little adrenalin. There's actually no telling what [I could] do."
Bryant had reason to be confident. He was 4-for-4 Sunday, scoring the Bucs' only points on field goals of 35, 36, 43 and 30 yards. The former New York Giants kicker, used to the unpredictable and swirling winds at Giants Stadium, took advantage of Sunday's unusually steady conditions. "It can be an adventure out there at times," said Bryant. "Today was actually a calm day compared to what it normally is. I've seen it worse. I've seen goofy things in here."
Jets rookie kicker Mike Nugent, an Ohio State product the Bucs were interested in drafting before New York snagged him in the second round, couldn't blame the conditions for his off day. Nugent missed his only two field-goal attempts of the game -- a 40-yarder that sailed wide right and a 48-yarder that was wide left. Nugent, the first kicker selected in the April draft, is 4-for-7 on the year after missing a 28-yard attempt earlier in the season.
Following two seasons of inconsistent kicking by Martin Gramatica, the Bucs placed an emphasis on finding a quality kicker in the offseason. Bryant won the job following a competitive training camp battle with Todd France. The fourth-year veteran has made eight of nine field goals this season. His only miss was a 46-yard attempt against Detroit last week.
"He's money," Bucs center John Wade said. "I'm glad he's here. He's helped us tremendously and he's going to help us tremendously in the future. I'm glad to see he got his kicks, I just wish they were extra points instead of field goals."
Katherine Smith, The Tampa Tribune 10 October 2005