Husted's peak overlooks Reveiz's valley
Sometimes being a kicker can be so lonely. Sometimes, it can be so lovely. For two straight weeks Bucs placekicker Mike Husted has seen the beauty of it all. For two straight weeks, the third-year pro has kicked his team into the win column. "I'm just glad to be a significant part of this team," Husted said after his 51-yard field goal with 8:37 left in overtime. "I don't see myself as a hero, but I was excited to get the opportunity to win the game."

Husted's leg is quickly becoming legendary among Bucs faithful. Against the Vikings, with first place and a lot of respect at stake, the kicker from the University of Virginia stepped onto the field with apparent nonchalance. He picked his spot, took the routine number of steps backward and nodded to holder Casey Weldon. There was the snap, the hold and the kick. It was deep and straight through the hearts of the Vikings.

"That's the best ball that has come off my foot all season long," said Husted, who has hit 10 of 10 extra points and 10 of 14 field goals for the season. "I knew it had the distance, and from the time it left my foot I turned to Casey and celebrated."

The celebration thing is becoming a habit for Husted. Last week against the Bengals, it was Husted's leg that lifted the Bucs late, his 53-yarder in a swirling wind and on a slippery field sliding just inside the right upright to give Tampa Bay a 19-16 win. This time, Husted left no doubt.

"I told coach that I wanted to do it and he sent me out there," Husted said. "You can't think about last week or about missing. I told myself to relax and I also told myself not to overkick it. It happened so fast that you really don't remember much of it. I knew I was relaxed. I don't remember looking down at the spot, I remember it coming off my foot and it felt real good. There was no doubt about this one."

Husted's kick was the second-longest overtime field goal in NFL history, 1 yard shy of Mike Cofer's game-winner for the Colts against the Jets on Sept. 10. Only minutes before, Minnesota's veteran kicker, Fuad Reveiz, had his chance. The Vikings stopped Tampa Bay on its first drive of overtime and took over at their 48-yard line. Warren Moon hit Cris Carter for 9 and 3 yards. His third-down pass to Qadry Ismail for 8 yards set up a 53-yard attempt by Reveiz.

He had the distance but not the direction. It sailed wide right. "I thought I was hitting the ball pretty well all day and it was within my range," he said. "I think it was a reasonable shot, but I don't want to make any excuses, I just missed it. I wish I could have had it back, but that's the business we're in. It's almost feast or famine. Fuad is a great kicker and a guy who has been around a long time," Husted said. "I can empathize with him, I can imagine how he feels. But we're 5-2 and our record speaks for itself. We have some great players in this locker room and at some point each one of us has to make a big play."

Roger Mills, The St.Petersburg Times 1995