I couldn't believe the Times printed the picture of Martin Gramatica on the front page indicating he lost the Packers game. I can't disagree that if Martin's field goal was good, we would have won the game. But Martin didn't lose the game, the Bucs lost the game. It was a team effort.
Martin Gramatica is one of the reasons we have a spot in the playoffs.
Talk about piling on. The Times, which always champions the little guy, apparently doesn't have much use for field goal kickers who miss occasionally. Your sports staff continues to blame poor Gramatica for Sunday's loss and his teammates silently stand by. Have you forgotten the score was still tied after the miss? Or that 15 times the offense failed to convert on third down and scored one touchdown.
And how about the vaunted defense, the real losers, allowing Green Bay to take the overtime kickoff, drive 48 yards on the ground and kick the winning field goal. Quit picking on the guy who scored most of the points Sunday.
Why is everyone so concerned about the Green Bay loss? Coach Dungy's prevent offense has given us a golden opportunity to see three more Bucs games before the Super Bowl. Of course, the prevent defense helped too.
We have a great bunch of ballplayers. It's a shame the coaching staff has adopted the philosophy of playing not to lose instead of playing to win.
Yes, Gramatica missed the field goal. Some uninitiated fans are blaming him for costing the Bucs the Central Division title. The kick he made to win at Miami was an All-World kick. So he missed one. Big deal.
Truth is, the Bucs lost two games at home (Jets and Lions) that cost them the Central title. Great teams don't lose in their own crib. It's akin to allowing a thief to come into your home and beat up your wife and kids.
The Bucs are an okay team. They ain't great _ yet. Next year, they can do it the hard way again, or the easy way. If I were Dungy, in camp next year, this would be my speech: "Men, we don't lose at home. Period." That way, they win eight games and only need to pick up three of the remaining eight. Even the Bucs should be able to do that.
I sat watching the Packers game, expecting a win and realizing that any home-field advantage would be just that: an advantage. The game was exciting and disappointing, but I realized that the Bucs are in the playoffs regardless. They have the ability to play like Super Bowl champs, and they have the ability to beat anyone in the league. I know this because I saw the game against the Rams.
I know that the Green Bay loss was disappointing, but it is not the end of the world. Also the loss does not by any stretch fall upon young Gramatica's shoulders. He is amazing, a Pro Bowl pick. He inspires everyone with his post-kick antics, and I cannot think of a better kicker in the league. No one in Tampa Bay should ever doubt his ability or heart.