Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: How Bucs punter Bryan 'Banger' Anger saved day vs. Saints

TAMPA — Quarterbacks get credit for winning games. Defense gets credit for winning championships. Heck, even the field-goal kicker gets carried off the field now and then.

But the punter? When does the punter ever get any love?

Right now. That's when.

If you're passing out game balls for Tampa Bay's 16-11 victory against the Saints on Sunday, be sure to save one for Bucs punter Bryan Anger. And if you're looking for a game ball to give, check inside the other team's 5-yard line. Chances are, Anger just kicked one there.

"Just doing my job,'' Anger said.

He more than did his job, dropping two punts inside the New Orleans 3 in the final seven minutes to help the Bucs and their defense preserve the victory. Rare is the game when you notice the punter, and when you do, it's typically because he shanked a punt into the stands at the worst possible time.

Anger? He saved his best punts for the most critical times.

"It's awesome,'' he said.

You're not going to get a whole lot of bragging out of Anger. He's not like that dude in Oakland. He doesn't have dances or feuds with opposing players.

But he does have a cool nickname: Banger. You better have a cool nickname and a strong leg if you're going to be drafted ahead of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, as Anger was by Jacksonville in the third round of the 2012 draft.

"Those two red zone punts at the end, those two flip-flops that he nailed?'' Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "Those were huge.''

The second was even more critical because Koetter passed up a Roberto Aguayo 52-yard field-goal attempt with just more than two minutes left and Tampa Bay leading 16-11.

With Anger drilling his punts and the defense playing as well as it was, there really was never any question as to what Koetter would do. Play with Anger.

"Anytime you're backed up inside your 5,'' Saints quarterback Drew Brees said, "you're limited with what you can do.''

Anger had a heck of a day thanks to the helping hand — actually hands — of his teammates. On the first crucial punt, rookie Ryan Smith made a sensational play, using his tiptoes to avoid stepping into the end zone then flipping the ball behind his back to teammate Alan Cross inside the 1. Then, just a few minutes later, Anger's perfect punt was downed by a hustling Josh Robinson.

"I got to thank the two gunners,'' Anger said. "They made the plays.''

But Anger made the kicks.

What made Anger's punts even more impressive is that they came after he kicked one into the end zone earlier in the game — just his fifth touchback in 58 punts this season, including 28 downed inside the 20.

"Wish I could get that one back,'' he said. "Three would've been nice for sure. Hit it too clean. It just carried on me a bit.''

You might think punters just kick it and hope for the best, but softening a punt to be downed deep in enemy territory is a special skill. Anger says you sort of aim for the 10-yard line. Ten is good. The 8 is perfect.

"Like a golf swing,'' Anger said. "You try to take a little bit off of your hit.''

Does he know when he nails it? Did he know Sunday?

"Yeah,'' Anger said, "I can tell.''

With that, Anger finished dressing in the Bucs locker room, but there was time for one more question. Was Sunday his best game ever?

"I don't know about that,'' he said. "It was a good one. I'll say that.''

He didn't need to. Everyone already knew that.

Comments

Ryan Fitzpatrick played better than you may think

TAMPA — The announcement of which Bucs quarterback will start at Chicago Sunday will have to wait.Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick met with Dirk Koetter Tuesday and were given the news."So we know what we're going to do,'' Koetter said. "Bot...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

For all of his accomplishments on the field, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been dogged by unfair criticism throughout his career that he's too nice.One moment during Monday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers isn't going to help him in th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

TAMPA — Dirk Koetter knows. He met with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick Tuesday and now they know. But he doesn't want the Chicago Bears to know which will quarterback the Bucs Sunday at Soldier Field.So the waiting game continues."So I kno...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

You might have walked away from the game Monday night feeling pretty good about your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure, the first half was about as ugly as it gets. After the Steelers returned Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third interception for a touchdown late...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

ST. PETERSBURG — Eduardo A. Encina, an award-winning sportswriter with an extensive background covering Tampa Bay sports, is returning to the Times to cover the Bucs.Encina will join Rick Stroud, Thomas Bassinger and columnists Tom Jones and Ma...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Rick Stroud and Times sports columnist Tom Jones break down the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football.Ryan Fitzpatrick  had a difficult first half, throwing three interceptions, but  led a second-half comeback that ...
Published: 09/25/18
The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

TAMPA — So this will be a fun and interesting week over at One Buc Place.Who's the quarterback?That question will be asked a few times. The likely answer will end up being Ryan Fitzpatrick.But this question will be asked a few dozen times:...
Published: 09/25/18
Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

TAMPA — At some point Tuesday morning, Jameis Winston will walk into the office of head coach Dirk Koetter and get the news.There will likely be hugs and handshakes, but within the first few minutes, Koetter will tell Winston what his role will...
Published: 09/25/18
Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

TAMPA  — Chris Godwin's first three quarters Monday night weren't as rough as Ryan Fitzpatrick's, but they were close.Through 45 minutes of Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss to Pittsburgh, Godwin dropped two touchdown passes, had another TD reception...
Published: 09/25/18
Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

TAMPA — They couldn't stick the landing. The FitzMagic ran out.Monday night against the Steelers, Tony Dungy night, was supposed to be the coming-out party, a new beginning, the Bucs on national TV, showing America that 2-0 was not make believe...
Published: 09/25/18