Prepared Bryant Delivers In The Clutch
Jon Gruden didn't think twice about sending K Matt Bryant onto the field for the game-winning field goal attempt Sunday against Atlanta. Last season, he didn't have that kind of confidence in his kicker.
Against the Falcons in Atlanta last year, the Bucs could have tied the game with a 46-yard field goal from Martin Gramatica, but instead opted to run the ball on fourth-and-1, which they didn't convert. On Sunday, with 42 seconds remaining, Bryant nailed the winning field goal from 45 yards.
"I've been practicing the game-winning field goal since I was 5 years old, so to speak," Bryant said. "I reminded myself of something [Colts QB] Peyton Manning said once, [that] the only time you feel pressure is when you're not prepared. I've been preparing for this for a long time."
Bryant, who has made 14 of 16 field goals this season, including all three attempts Sunday, said he didn't need RB Cadillac Williams' 8-yard run on the game-winning drive, even though it moved the ball to Atlanta's 27-yard line. He wanted to try a 53-yard field goal. Instead he made the game-winning 45-yarder but hopes in the future he can quiet critics who question his leg strength.
In pregame warm-ups, Bryant told special teams coach Richard Bisaccia his range was more than 55 yards. He consistently nailed field goals from that distance before the game.
"That's one thing that needs to get out of people's heads [is] my leg strength," Bryant said. "My ability to kick over 53 yards or whatever is there. I wish I had a chance to make it, and everybody would be quiet about that."