Imagine the pressure. Imagine the wolverines clawing at the inside of your stomach. Imagine a dry mouth and wet palms. Imagine the noise, the booing and the heckling, and wondering if some of it was coming from you sideline.

Imagine being Roberto Aguayo, and staring down a field goal that meant, well, everything.

In the booth, Jon Gruden was saying that this could be the deciding kick in Aguayo’s career. He had missed, and missed again in a season of misses. His team, down to castoffs and leftovers, had the defending NFC champions on the ropes.

Imagine the angst among Bucs fans. Imagine the loneliness of the field goal kicker.

Imagine a season, and possibly a career, in the balance. When Aguayo missed his second field goal, it almost forced Bucs fans to load torches and pitchforks into their trucks and ride out for Carolina. All at once, Aguayo was Booker Reese and Sabby Piscitelli and Dexter Jackson (the receiver) and Lars Tate and Demetrious Dubose and Melvin Johnson and Brian Price and all those other wasted second-round picks.

Imagine the doubters and the skeptics and the cynics who would have just as soon tried a Hail Mary pass as a kick.

Bucs K Roberto Aguayo - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Getty Images

And then imagine Roberto Aguayo kicking a 38-yard field goal, straight and true, through the uprights, earning a second look at a season, 17-14. It was a kick that earned new life for both a wayward franchise and a wobbly kicker.

Redemption? Well, not quite. Aguayo is still a 43 percent kicker in an 80 percent league. He dodged the knife this week, but they’ll throw it again after the bye week. You get the feeling that Dirk Koetter’s patience is wearing thin.

For instance, Koetter was asked how close his team had to get before he was comfortable with Aguayo.

“I wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “We couldn’t have got close enough.

“I’m happy he made it. It’s awesome he made it. We can’t miss those field goals. That could have cost us the game. We can’t miss those. I’m happy he made the other one.”

By now, Aguayo has to be feeling his coach’s mistrustful eyes, too. Good for him for making the kick, but his personal comeback isn’t over yet. He is Kyle Brindza. He is Bill Capece. In victory, fans will eventually embrace you.

But with Aguayo, not yet.

Oh, let him enjoy his moment. He’s felt lousy enough often enough, and his fans have felt the same. But he is still a kicker on a banana peel, a long way from the cheers.

“It meant the world,” Aguayo said. “I knew it was coming. That’s what complimentary football is. Jameis (Winston) and his guys get me in field goal range. They’re going out there and we won it – again. Not the game I wanted to have, but at the end of the day we made the one that counted and got the “W,” so that was all.

“Honestly, how the game was turning out I was thinking this could come down to the game- winner. For some reason before the game started I was like this might have a game-winning field goal. You can’t even paint a different story line with how the game went about and everything and missing a couple of kicks then going out there and making the one that counted.”

A cynic might point out that if it weren’t for Aguayo’s earlier misses, his winner wouldn’t have been necessary. Still, winning is winning.

“When y’all talk about struggle all I see is him kicking the game-winning field goal,” said Winston. “Struggling? I don’t hear that. I don’t hear negatives. I just hear Roberto Aguayo kicking the game-winning field goal.”

Aguayo’s kick allowed you to forgive, and to forget, some of the Bucs’ other shortcomings on Monday night.

That ridiculous roughing the punter penalty on Howard Jones? Just a detail. The fact that Panthers tight end Greg Olson kept turning invisible to the Bucs secondary? A footnote, that’s all. The inexcusable play call on third-and-9, when the Bucs ran the ball to set up a missed field goal? An afterthought. The two blown third-and-ones, stopped by pre-snap penalties? An inconvenience.

Then there are the things that Aguayo’s kick underlined.

The sensational running game by Jacquizz Rodgers (101 yards). The fourth game-winning drive of Winston’s career. The defensive line, where the members were introducing each other in the huddle.

How big can a Week 5 game be? This one was as large as you can imagine. There is such a difference in the NFL between 1-4 and 2-3. One, it’s time to start thinking about the draft. Two, it’s time to start thinking about a playoff run.

All in all, it was the Bucs’ most impressive win in years, maybe since a 27-24 win over Pittsburgh in 2014. Tampa Bay simply hasn’t beaten a lot of good teams lately. Thirteen of their last 14 games coming into this year were against teams without winning records.

Granted, Carolina is only 1-4. But the Panthers were 15-1 last year, and they had won twice in a row with backup quarterback Derek Anderson against the Bucs in 2014.

Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah – Photo by: Getty Images

A win like this changes things. Sure, the Bucs have played horribly in San Francisco. But does Blaine Gabbert scare you? The Raiders are good, but they’re in the Bucs’ neighborhood.

There are quality teams ahead – the Seahawks, the Chiefs – but the Bucs may get new consideration after this.

The Bucs won a football game Monday night. But they won something more. They finally beat somebody. Yes, the Panthers were banged up and missing Pro Bowlers, but so were the Bucs.

Tampa Bay finally earned a measure of respect. And perhaps that change of culture that Koetter has talked about can finally start to blossom.

All because of a kicker who, amazingly, did not miss when the game was on the line.

Next game, perhaps he will. Next game, perhaps the Bucs will lose. That’s what keeps us tuning in.

For a day, however, the Bucs won a game that feels as it might start something. This time, the kick was straight. This time, the team was, too.

No one has won more awards, including two national Associated Press Sports Editors Best Columnist awards and eight top 10 finishes, than the legendary Gary Shelton, former sports columnist of the St. Petersburg Times. Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can.

Shelton just received his sixth Sportswriter of the Year award for Florida by the NSSA, and no one has seen more big events, including 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics and 11 Final Fours. Shelton still goes into the locker room to obtain his stories.

And no one has made you angrier, or laugh louder, or think harder about what he has written. Simply put, no one has covered Tampa Bay sports like Shelton has. Now you can read Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton

Bucs fans can enjoy Shelton’s weekly post-game column on the Bucs following every Tampa Bay game exclusively on PewterReport.com, and our readers are encouraged to subscribe to GarySheltonSports.com for all of his expert commentary on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays, USF, Florida, Florida State and all of the sports teams and sports figures in the national spotlight.

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About the Author: Gary Shelton

Legendary sports columnist Gary Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can. No one has won more sports writing awards than Shelton, who has covered Tampa Bay area sports for decades with his unique brand of humor and insight. Bucs fans can Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton
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Dbuc63
Dbuc63
5 years ago

Aguayo is a bad professional FG kicker right now. I’m thrilled he made the last FG but quite honestly a 43% success rate is telling. I do not see this guy making it the whole season but in this case I hope to be wrong a he doesn’t miss another kick all year. Agree Gary, this was not redemption, more like survival. A great win for the Bucs on a day that usually ends up going the other way. Enjoy the week off, well deserved Bucs! I’ll enjoy the rest of week, beating the panthers is always a good damn… Read more »

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
5 years ago

Well maybe it will be for Aguayo like Gruden said it was for Jankiowski…he was about to cut him as a rookie when he was in the midst of a season that went 22 for 32 in field goals, but then SJ made this 58 yarder and that saved his career…maybe it will be the same….maybe…

vtrantb
vtrantb
Reply to  EastEndBoy
5 years ago

Janikowski is not even in the top 15 most accurate kicker of all time. Hardly worth a 1st round pick when 90% of the top 15 were not even drafted. We had two of them in the top 15 in Barth and Bryant.

martinii
martinii
5 years ago

Yea, Aquayo’s game winning FG salvaged a lot of hard work by an injury riddled team with a struggling QB, but it sure as hell didn’t prove this guy is an NFL level talent. I would have several Place Kickers lined up for tryouts over the next two weeks. I don’t care if the guy was our 2nd round pick and the best college kicker since Lou Grosa. He stinks and we will lose games because of him. It was an inspiring win, however and my sincere congratulations to a rag tag scrapping Bucs defense and a determined Buc’s OL.

wnb0395
wnb0395
5 years ago

I feel sorry for Aguayo but he needs to be replaced. I don’t care if he kicked the game winner, he missed 2 others earlier in the game. Any kicker that is kicking 50% through the first 5 weeks needs to be replaced. Its not like he is missing some 50+ yds kicks that messing up his percentage. He hasn’t attempted a kick over 50 yds this season. Had we not drafted him so high, he would already be gone. He cant make anything over 40 yards. He is the 32th ranked kicker in the league. Its not all his… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
5 years ago

Aguayo’s kick saved his job? For now? Our standards are just so mindboggling low around here. It shouldn’t have saved his job even going into the next game. If anything making that last kick allow allots him airfare back to Tampa where he should have been fired upon arrival.

jme0151
jme0151
Reply to  pinkstob
5 years ago

I don’t see his kicks as making or braking Bucs season. I see getting into the in zone enough as the bigger problem. Way to many opportunities to get 6 and we don’t. We drafted this kid and need to ride it out all season. If he sucks rest of year then you have a body of work worthy enough to send him packing. We wasted the second round pick on him and we are NOT a playoff team yet so lets see if he gets it in gear.

gcolerick
gcolerick
Reply to  jme0151
5 years ago

Sincerely, Mrs. Aguayo

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

Aguayo should be cut. I’ve had it with this clown. Just admit it was a stupid collosal mistake and move on with some undrafted free agent who can actually make FG’s and point afters. Like you have done to begin with! Close game and he left 6 easy points on the board. Beyond ridiculous. You can tell Koetter is fed up and probably wants him gone, but it’s likely Licht keeping him around refusing to see he is a bust and admiring he screwed this one up. College is not the NFL. Why so many can’t understand this is beyond… Read more »

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
5 years ago

I’m happy for Berto. He needed that kick to sail through the uprights. We needed that winning kick. I really hope he settles in and goes on a run of good kicking I know he’s capable of having. Still, The signs of his problems were evident at FSU his junior year. I watched him miss 5 FG’s (4 of them pulls to the left) and he’s still having that problem. He has to fix that or he’ll be cut. Dirk needs to back up his guy, cause as a 2nd rounder, he’s not being cut (if he is) until late… Read more »

WinstonMVP
WinstonMVP
5 years ago

Great Read Gary! Aguayo kick the game winner. That’s what matters. After 5 weeks some fans still want to cut him after a win. Same people who was mad we even drafted him , no surprise there. Gruden said last night When he was a Raider Kicker Janakowski was even worse than Aguayo and 15 years later he is the 2nd best kicker in the game. But some fans would rather be right than win I guess. After week 5 the Bucs are right where most pundits thought we would be, 2-3 . With our whole starting D line out… Read more »

vtrantb
vtrantb
Reply to  WinstonMVP
5 years ago

Where did you get the analysis that Janiskowski is the second best kicker of all time? Look it up, Dan Bailey is currently the most accurate kicker. Janiskowski is not even in the top 15 most accurate kicker. Again, look it up.

vtrantb
vtrantb
Reply to  vtrantb
5 years ago

I’ll do the homework for you. Here is Janikowski at number 40: Leaders + indicates Hall of Famer Share & more Copy Link to Table to Clipboard Rank Player FG% Years Tm 1 Dan Bailey 89.941% 2011-2016 dal 2 Justin Tucker 88.750% 2012-2016 rav 3 Steven Hauschka 87.368% 2008-2016 3TM 4 Stephen Gostkowski 86.810% 2006-2016 nwe 5 Mike Vanderjagt 86.466% 1998-2006 2TM 6 Nate Kaeding 86.190% 2004-2012 2TM 7 Rob Bironas 85.663% 2005-2013 oti 8 Shayne Graham 85.494% 2001-2015 10T 9 Robbie Gould 85.449% 2005-2015 chi 10 Matt Bryant 85.440% 2002-2016 5TM 11 Dan Carpenter 84.528% 2008-2016 2TM 12 Adam… Read more »

WinstonMVP
WinstonMVP
5 years ago

Correction, we just played 4 of the 6 best D’s in the league in first 5 weeks.
Vikings
Broncos
Panthers
Cardinals
Rams
Seahawks

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

He kicked it and we won. I’m sure he has and is studying what he is doing differently than before. I’d go kick in Tampa Stadium and get in the groove thses few days off. Go Bucs!

jongruden
jongruden
5 years ago

Draft Zane Gonzales from Arizona State he is the record holder for most field goals in a career in the NCAA and has a career 82% field goad percentage he has a strong leg and can hit from 55 plus just don’t draft him in the second round haha

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

I would rather see us trade up into the 2nd or 3rd round and draft Gonzales’ holder.

vtrantb
vtrantb
5 years ago

Let just say not only did Ayuago save his job but Licht as well. Trading two positional players in the draft for a placekicker is just dumb. Like I said previously 90% of the most accurate kickers of all time were undrafted. If PK was such a priority, why didn’t he propose a trade to Dallas for Dan Bailey (most accurate kicker of all time) giving up the 2nd round pick? Knowing Jones, we would have probably agreed on that trade.

chetthevette
chetthevette
5 years ago

Totally chewed my thumb nail off before he made that kick.
I for one don’t think that we should kick him to the curb just yet. Some guys just suck when starting out their NFL careers.
Terry Bradshaw was benched for a drug addict
They called him the lil abner of football.
Brett Farve was abysmal.
Janakowski sucked big time.
Orlando Pace could not stop holding.
The point is these guys turned out pretty good.
I’m willing to cut him some slack right now. But if he doesn’t get his shit together quick others won’t be so tolerant.

vtrantb
vtrantb
Reply to  chetthevette
5 years ago

But why a 2nd round draft pick when there so many good kickers out there when we had so many other needs? What was wrong with Bryant or Barth?

devasher
devasher
Reply to  chetthevette
5 years ago

You realize that Brett Favre, Bradshaw were QB’s, Olando Pace was the top pick in the draft. They played positions that go very, very high in the draft. Not a position that is almost always adequate as a college free agent and can be signed to minimal salaries. Janikowski’s bad rookie year was close to 70% accuracy on FG’s, and made 12-13 FG’s under 40 yards. Augayo is spotting 50% and is 3-4 below 40. Janikowski was drafted so high because of his incredible kicking strength. Aguayo was drafted so high because of his accuracy. Also, despite still being with… Read more »

arizonajoe
arizonajoe
5 years ago

Finally, the torches are lit and the pitchforks are raised. Took Buc fan base long enough…. Tryout three new kickers over the next two weeks please.

gafikdetail
5 years ago

hey Dirk! know what else the Bucs can’t do? get in the redzone and not score points and depend on a rookie kicker to be an all-pro… your decision making and play-calling is not looking too great either

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

I have to agree with those who feel getting into the end zone is the real problem for the Bucs. You can’t keep getting TO’s in the NFL and getting field goals off them and expect to win in the NFL. I don’t put the entire blame on Koetter, either. You can’t keep getting stupid illegal motion penalties on third and one situations and expect to be successful in the NFL either. Still, if Arroyo hadn’t been such a high draft pick, he no doubt would probably be gone sooner rather than later. Robbie Gould is still out there and… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

As usual Dr. D you bring some reason to the forum. There’s little doubt that Roberto would be going the way of last season’s Kyle Brindza experiment if he wasn’t acquired with a high Draft pick thinking it would solidify the position for years to come. But, in this case there is a big investment which is going to buy Roberto some time that other struggling kickers wouldn’t have gotten. One could argue his missed kicks cost us a victory against the Rams. I contend that his mistakes may have been glaring but so too were the fumbles, interceptions, missed… Read more »