Kyle Brindza arrived in Tampa Bay Buccaneers near the end of the NFL preseason in a trade with Detroit. The University of Notre Dame product immediately connected on kicks of 57 and 55 yards to win the Tampa Bay kicking job ahead of Connor Barth and Patrick Murray so it was no surprise to head coach Lovie Smith and his coaching staff when Brindza calmly nailed a second quarter 58 yard field goal. What was a surprise were the three missed field goals and an extra point that cost Tampa Bay a win on Sunday afternoon in Houston.
The second quarter field goal was the second longest in Tampa Bay history. Current Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant kicked a 62 yard field goal on October 22, 2006 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brindza’s kick did put in the Tampa Bay record books as the only kicker in Tampa Bay history to record two kicks of 55 yards or longer in the same season. The kick which cut the deficit to 7-3 in the second quarter was the third longest in NFL history by a rookie placekicker. Only a 60 yarder by Greg Zuerlein (9/30/2012) and a 59 yard field goal by Tony Franklin (11/12/1979) and Pete Soyanovich (11/12/1989) were longer.
Brindza, whom Smith insisted was their kicker missed the extra point following a Jamei Winston to former University of Houston running back Charlie Sims touchdown pass that would ave given the Buccaneers a 10-7 lead instead of a 9-7 leading heading into the halftime locker room.
“This guy’s been carrying us the whole year,”said Winston about his kicker. “His great field goals, 58 yards, Every time this guy gets up there, he only has a small opportunity. He doesn’t get as many chances as we get. This guy is playing his tail off.”
Houston kicker Randy Bullock’s 39 yard yard field goal on the team’s first possession of the third quarter drove home that point as Tampa Bay trailed 10-9. Bullock had previously missed a 43 yard field goal with 1:31 left on the first half game clock.
Facing fourth and seven from the Houston 15 yard line, SMith sent Brindza on to the gridiron of a 33 yard chip but it sailed wide right leaving a drive that ad begun at the Tampa Bay fifteen pointless.
Bullock’s 19 yard field goal with 1:15 left in the game gave Houston a 19-9 lead forcing Smith and the Buccaneers needing two scores. Smith called Brindza’s number one last time looking for three points but the rookie could not hit from 57 yards.
“We signed him (Brinza) based on what he did elsewhere,” said Smith following the game. “We’re not going to dice a player based on one bad game. It happens, simple as that. That won’t happen again.”
The misses magnified Tampa Bay’s lost opportunities on a day when a win could have helped them keep pace in the NFC South heading home to take on the Carolina Panthers.