Gramatica Starts To Regain Form
The Tampa Tribune, published 15 December 2003

William Gramatica Sr. dug deep in the family mementos. He was searching for high school game footage of Martin Gramatica kicking. He was searching for answers, just like his son. ``I said, `I don't even kick like I did in high school anymore,' '' Gramatica said.

Problem is, Gramatica hasn't been kicking like his ``Automatica'' self lately. Three field goals Sunday against Houston should help him return to form. Gramatica has made 55 percent of his field goals this season - a career and league-worst. Five of Gramatica's 24 attempts have been blocked, including a 41-yard attempt Sunday, which Gramatica said he kicked too low.

He also missed a 41-yard attempt wide left late in the fourth quarter, but Houston was penalized for leaping, so the miss didn't count. ``I played the wind and it just stayed straight,'' Gramatica said. ``But the good thing about that one, even though I didn't make it, I hit it solid.''

In addition to his father's help, Gramatica also sought advice from his brothers, University of South Florida kicker Santiago and Arizona Cardinals kicker Bill. Both noticed he was picking his head up.

``I take all their help because I know they've seen me kick forever, so they know what's going on,'' Gramatica said. ``I wasn't hitting the ball high and just a lack of keeping my head down and following through better. It was just minor details, not that I take for granted, but just don't notice that [I was] doing them.''

During the weeklong preparations for the Texans, Gramatica concentrated on keeping his head down during kicks. ``It doesn't take much to make things go wrong,'' punter and holder Tom Tupa said. ``If there's a little something that's just not right, it can throw things off.''

Gramatica met with Gruden last Monday to discuss his kicking woes after missing two kicks against New Orleans. Gruden told his kicker the team still had confidence in him, though Gramatica said his struggles never had anything to do with a lack of confidence. Sunday's performance - he contributed nine points with field goals of 36, 23 and 26 yards - should help Gramatica rebound from a disappointing season. ``More than anything, it's a relief,'' he said. ``I felt like I hit them pretty decent and they went through. That's a relief.''