Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Aguayo kick at the buzzer lifts Bucs over Panthers


Roberto Aguayo looked up and saw the kick tumbling end over end, perfectly splitting the uprights as it traveled 38 yards through the cool air at Bank of America Stadium.

The crowd of 73,425 grew silent as church prayer when they realized the field goal meant the Bucs (2-3) had beaten the Carolina Panthers 17-14 on Monday Night Football.

"I looked up and it was going down the middle and everybody was coming at me," Aguayo said. "For some reason, I was telling everyone, 'We are going to get a penalty.' But the game was over."

Aguayo, the rookie from Florida State, had missed two of his four previous field goal attempts Monday, hitting the right upright from 33 yards and pushing a 46-yarder to the left that would've given the Bucs the lead with 3:33 left in the game.

"I wasn't comfortable," confessed Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. "We couldn't have gotten close enough."

That's because while Aguayo had the golden toe for the Seminoles, it turned to brass when he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft.

The most accurate kicker in NCAA history inside of 40 yards had actually missed more field goals (four) than he had made (three) this season when he eyeballed a chance at another winner Monday. In fact, Aguayo missed more kicks Monday than he did as a freshman at FSU when he made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts and all 94 extra points.

In fact, he had admittedly been sort of a basket case since preseason when he started spraying kicks all over the place in games and in practice.

"I guess you could say that," Aguayo said. "Definitely in the NFL, you get a lot of criticism, which I found out early. But I learned to let that go in one ear and out the other. You've got to just laugh at it. I know what to do. I've done it at Florida State, so it is a rough start coming in, but I know what I'm capable of."

So did quarterback Jameis Winston, his former FSU teammate, who took the goat horns off Aguayo's helmet when he rescued the Bucs with a clutch 66-yard drive in 11 plays after taking over with 1:49 to play.

Winston completed four passes to help move the Bucs to the Carolina 32-yard line with the score still tied at 14.

Running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who set career highs in rushing attempts (30) and yards (101) , was stopped for no gain but pulled down by his facemask by Panthers defensive lineman Kony Ealy, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Enter Aguayo, who had sucked the confidence out of Koetter and perhaps most of his teammates except for Winston, who vowed to give him another chance.

"I told him big-time players make big-time plays in big-time moments," Winston said he told Aguayo after his final miss. "I said, 'I'm going to get you that ball down there, if I don't do it myself, I said, so be ready.' And he was ready. I knew he was ready. I got the ultimate trust in him."

Aguayo went over to the kicking net and practiced by himself, trying to stay smooth in his approach and ripping one after another into the mesh.

"I was just hitting the ball in the net and just working on staying smooth and staying comfortable and when I got there, I was just like having another rep in the net, being comfortable and attacking the ball," Aguayo said. "It's just another kick."

Except it wasn't. Had Aguayo missed another potential winner, it would've gone to overtime, and the Panthers' six-game winning streak against Tampa Bay may have gone to seven.

Despite all his success, Aguayo said he had only made one game-winner during his career at Florida State, a 23-yarder in a 20-17 win at Boston College two years ago.

But this was a little different. Had Aguayo missed again, the Bucs may have gone into the bye week seriously considering hiring another placekicker, second-round pick be damned. And general manger Jason Licht would've spent the next 13 days wiping the omelette off his face for the unconventional and risky decision to take a place-kicker in the second round.

"I remember I had that 46-yarder and missed it and the defense came up to me and said, 'We're going to give you another shot,' " Aguayo said.

"There's nothing you can do about it. I thought I hit (the ball) well. It went off to the left. You want those back. But as much as you want them back, you've got to concentrate on the next one."

Koetter walked up to Aguayo as the Bucs prepared to run their last play and use their last timeout.

"Coach came up to me and said, 'Right (hashmark)?' " Aguayo said. "And I was like, 'Yeah.' "

On the final play from scrimmage, Winston took the snap and ran to the right hashmark, cradling the ball and falling into a fetal position.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera called timeout in an effort to play with Aguayo's nerves.

"Yeah, they iced me. But I've been iced before," Aguayo said. "It doesn't affect me."

Winston was talking to a teammate and actually missed watching the kick.

After the game, Koetter was asked if Monday's winner gave him more confidence in Aguayo.

"Yeah. I don't know about that," Koetter said. "I'm happy that he made it and it's awesome that he made it. We can't miss those field goals. Shoot, what do you want me to say? We can't miss those. We could've lost this game. I'm happy he made the last one."


Aguayo kick at the buzzer lifts Bucs over Panthers 10/10/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 2:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …