Tampa Bay could have used six more points in its 34-21 loss to Dallas to open the 2009 regular season last Sunday. But those points were lost when kicker Mike Nugent had one field goal blocked and another attempt sail wide right in the first half of the contest at Raymond James Stadium.
Nugent, who signed with the Bucs as a free agent during the offseason, had his 38-yard field goal blocked, and missed a 46-yard attempt to end the first half of Sunday's game.
After reviewing the tape, Nugent believes both mistakes are correctable.
"On the blocked field goal, we watched it on tape and I think it's something we all looked at and felt we could do something a little different to help prevent that," said Nugent. "On the missed one, I know what I did wrong. I just need to do a better job playing the wind and just go out there and hit it. I knew what happened the second I kicked it. I just need to take that into this week."
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris initially sent Nugent on to the field to attempt the 46-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining in the first half. However, during a timeout Morris decided to have quarterback Byron Leftwich take one more shot at the end zone, which he did on an incomplete pass to wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Nugent's miss ensued, but Morris stopped short of excusing his kicker's failed field goal attempt.
"I'm not making excuses for Nugent because I won't, but his first kick got blocked and the second one I pulled him off the field and put in my seven-second throw and if we hit that ball to Antonio Bryant in the end zone the half is over," Morris said Monday. "I'm not blaming Leftwich because he had to throw the ball fast and on a line, otherwise you're going to run out of time and the half wlll be over. Seeing that executed was a positive for the team, but now I want to hit the field goal, of course, and he didn't it. He missed it. I'm not making excuses for him because he has to hit that."
Even if Morris decided to make an excuse for Nugent, the former second-round draft pick refuses to excuse himself for that missed scoring opportunity.
"Our coaches do a great job of preparing you for any situation," said Nugent. "You have to be prepared to do your job no matter what the situation is. It was just a case where I didn't do my job in this particular instance. I have to hit that kick."
Nugent beat out veteran K Matt Bryant, who missed all preseason with a hamstring injury. But he's made just 6-of-11 (61.1 percent) of his field goal attempts dating back to the start of preseason. In his defense, two of those misses came from 50-plus yards away, and another was blocked,
The 79.8-percent career field goal kicker said he has been kicking the ball well in practice. But the Bucs need Nugent to be at his best on game days.
"I had a really good week of practice and I've been kicking the ball well," said Nugent. "We're getting the transition down really well. I just need to do a better job of transferring that on the field in games."