With apologies to rookie running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, whose 119 rushing yards and fourth quarter touchdown were critical in Tampa Bay’s 30-27 win at Atlanta, Matt Bryant kicked the Buccaneers to its seventh win of the season with a 45-yard field goal in the last minute of the team’s 30-27 victory over the rival Falcons. For his heroics, Bryant is this week’s PewterReport.com Pewter Player of the Game.
Bryant opened the scoring for Tampa Bay with a 31-yarder to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead with 10:44 remaining in the first quarter. Bryant’s first 45-yarder came with 8:38 left in the second quarter and extended Tampa Bay’s lead to 13-3.
There was a bit of irony that Bryant’s great performance came at Atlanta because a year ago, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden did not have the confidence in struggling kicker Martin Gramatica, who had made just four of his last eight field goals, and elected to bypass a potential game-tying, 45-yard attempt in the fourth quarter and instead go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Falcons 28. A run up the middle by Michael Pittman lost two yards and keyed an Atlanta touchdown drive that increased its lead to 24-14.
Bryant’s field goals on Sunday avenged last year’s loss to Atlanta, and more importantly, elevated the Bucs to a 7-3 record this season while kicking the Falcons out of first place in the NFC South and dropping them to a 6-4 mark.
Bryant entered the Falcons game nailing 11-of-13 field goals (84.6 percent), and has now made 14-of-16 attempts (87.5 percent) this season. That’s a far cry from the 60 percent that Gramatica converted over the past two years for the Buccaneers.
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