Bucs’ Matt Gay comes up big in upset over Rams

Bucs Journal: The rookie recovers from last week’s last-second miss.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay kicks a field goal against the Los Angeles Rams during the second of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay kicks a field goal against the Los Angeles Rams during the second of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) [ MARK J. TERRILL | AP ]
Published Sept. 30, 2019|Updated Sept. 30, 2019

LOS ANGELES — Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay needed just one week to take a kick at his critics.

After missing two extra points and a potential game-winning field goal in last Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, Gay converted nine of nine kicks in the Bucs’ 55-40 upset road win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Gay converted both of his field-goal attempts on Sunday, and both of them came in pressure situations.

His biggest boot was his career-high 58-yard field goal with two seconds remaining, a conversion that gave the Bucs a two-score lead, 31-20 at halftime.

After the Rams made it a one-possession game late, 45-40, Gay booted a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to eight.

“It’s huge and so is the confidence we have in the guy," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "He knows we have confidence. He’s not going anywhere. This kid’s talented. One kick doesn’t define you.”

After Gay’s rocky day against the Giants, Bucs coach Bruce Arians showed his faith in Gay. And Arians felt the heat himself this past week having to explain why he took a five-yard delay of game penalty before Gay’s kick went wide by less than the distance of two footballs.

And Arians showed faith in Gay by allowing him to convert a kick from the midfield logo just before halftime. Gay booted a line drive kick with plenty of distance between the uprights.

“Especially after last week, being able to stick with me and have confidence in me, and then throwing me out there for a long one, that’s shows that he trusts me and he believes in me,” Gay said. “And that gets you going more than anything, knowing that your coach and your team is behind you. Just being able for him to send me out for the long one, that means a lot too.”

Gay’s kick tied for the third longest in Bucs history. Kyle Brindza made a 58-yards, Chandler Catanzaro made a 59-yard overtime winner against Cleveland last season, and Matt Bryant converted a 62-yard field goal.

“I really try to focus on making every kick the same, and making sure I’m not putting any extra on it or swinging more than I need to because that’s when you start getting into some issues and things like that,” Gay said. “Just really going through my process. I hit some long ones in warmup and I felt comfortable going into that kick. Great snap. Great hold and I was able to put it through.”

Gay didn’t made a kick from longer than 56 yards in college at Utah. Gay’s previous high was a 52-yard conversion last week. His longest in the preseason was 55 yards.

That his day came against one of the league’s top kickers, the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein, is an interesting subnote.

Bucs receiving corp beset by injuries

Already one wide receiver down, the Bucs couldn't afford to lose another, especially Mike Evans.

But as the Bucs battled into the second half Sunday on the road trying to preserve a lead over the Los Angeles Rams, the sight of Evans disappearing into the Bucs locker room to get his right hand evaluated was one that had to make both Tampa Bay fans and fantasy football owners cringe.

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The Bucs were holding an eight-point lead in the third quarter and had third-and-10 at the Rams 40. Hit as he threw, quarterback Jameis Winston wobbled a pass high into the air over the middle of the field that drew a crowd of Rams defensive back underneath it.

Evans threw his hand in the scrum to deflect it, and after the pass fell incomplete, he emerged holding his right hand in obvious pain. He retreated to the visiting locker room at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with trainers, but shortly returned to the field and into action.

Evans then caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston early in the fourth quarter, beating his defender deep over the middle, jogging along the goal line before going into the end zone. The 67-yard catch was the third-longest of Evans’s career.

The injury to Evans came after Breshad Perriman left after his first and only target of the game with a hamstring injury.

Winston couldn’t connect with Perriman on a short out pass on second-and-7 on the second play of the Bucs’ second offensive drive, and then immediately went to the sideline. Shortly after, the Bucs announced that Perriman was out with a hamstring injury.

Perriman was on the injury report with a quadriceps injury, and was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday before practicing fully on Friday. The offseason free-agent signing entered the game with just three catches on the season. He is averaging just 5.3 yards per catch, far below his career 15 yard per catch average.

The Bucs have carried six receivers for the second straight week and they needed them. Both Justin Watson and Bobo Wilson recorded their first catches of the season.


— Rookie starting inside linebacker Devin White missed his second straight game with a knee injury, as did rookie cornerback Jamel Dean. Arians said Friday he hoped both would be able to return for next week’s game in New Orleans.

— Bucs general manager Jason Licht was not with the team Sunday following the unexpected death of his father, Ron. Licht left the team Saturday night to be with his family.