Thursday, February 22, 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
Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

TAMPA  — With no witnesses and no video evidence, Tampa Police have stopped investigating a case from Christmas Eve that had a truck belonging to Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson found wrecked and abandoned in a mall parking lot with hollow-po...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was not hurt in a car wreck last week in which he was cited for careless driving.Winston, 24, was driving on the Veterans Expressway near Waters Avenue in northwest Tampa on Feb. 13 when his Ford F250 truck rear-ended ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs sign ex-New Hampshire RB Dalton Crossan

Bucs sign ex-New Hampshire RB Dalton Crossan

February signings in the NFL usually face long odds to stick on rosters in the fall, but the Bucs added to their running back depth on Thursday, signing former New Hampshire star Dalton Crossan.Crossan, who turns 24 on Sunday, went to training camp l...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Brentson Buckner wants more than sacks from Bucs d-line

Brentson Buckner wants more than sacks from Bucs d-line

Much has been made of the Bucs finishing last in the NFL in sacks with just 22 during the 2017 season, but new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner says he measures success in much more than the ultimate goal of a sack."You play 1,300 plays, you hav...
Published: 02/22/18
New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

This isn't the first time Brentson Buckner has wanted to get closer to the Bucs defensive line.As a defensive tackle for the Panthers, Buckner's team went 7-9 in 2002, the inaugural season for the NFC South.Tampa Bay won the division that year, and w...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
New Bucs assistant Brentson Buckner knows challenge of NFC South QBs

New Bucs assistant Brentson Buckner knows challenge of NFC South QBs

New Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner understands full well what a challenge he'll face in trying to bring down three talented quarterbacks in the NFC South this season."Not getting much sleep," Buckner said, asked of his expectations in a d...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Dirk Koetter has filled out his 2018 coaching staff, hiring former USF and Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas as his new defensive quality control coach.Nicholas, 34, starred for the Bulls and played in Atlanta from 2007-13, much of that under curre...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs release Doug Martin and Chris Baker, two of their most disappointing players in 2017

Bucs release Doug Martin and Chris Baker, two of their most disappointing players in 2017

TAMPA – Early in his rookie year, Doug Martin was told he was losing his balance because he was dropping his head as he hit the hole in a game at Oakland.He quickly corrected that mistake and wound up rushing for a career-high 251 yards against...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs release defensive tackle Chris Baker

Bucs release defensive tackle Chris Baker

Hours after they parted ways with running back Doug Martin, the Bucs continued their initial wave of roster cuts Tuesday afternoon, releasing defensive tackle Chris Baker.Baker, 30, lasted only one season with Tampa Bay, managing just a half-sack aft...
Published: 02/20/18
Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

TAMPA — After six up and mostly down seasons, Doug Martin's run with the Bucs is over.The two-time Pro Bowl running back was released by Tampa Bay Tuesday, a move that was expected after he failed to rush for less than 500 yards in four of the ...
Published: 02/20/18