Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Special Month

The NFL recognizes Buccaneer kicker Martin Gramatica for his superb work in October

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After his first successful field goal of October tied the Washington game at the end of regulation, Martin Gramatica flew high for the rest of the month

It's been suggested, for good reason, that October is a month of horrors for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While it's true that the Bucs have experienced an annual swoon leading up to Halloween, at least one Tampa Bay player had a superb month of October this year.

At least, that's what the National Football League believes. Second-year Buccaneer kicker Martin Gramatica was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month on Thursday, marking his second such award in just six NFL months. He also was the conference's top special teams player in November of 1999, his rookie season.

Gramatica's award, which comes just a day after QB Shaun King was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week and the Miller Lite NFL Player of the Week, is the Bucs' first monthly award of the season. They have captured four weekly awards, including three Defensive Players of the Week (Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, Warren Sapp).

On pace to shatter the Buccaneer scoring record he set as a rookie last year (106), Gramatica ranks third in the NFC and fifth in the NFL in points, many of them tallied during four October games. In the month, Gramatica nailed 10 of 12 field goals and all nine of his extra point tries for a total of 39 points. His two misses included one blocked kick and one attempt from 53 yards.

Though he missed that long-distance try at Minnesota on October 9, Gramatica was dramatically accurate from beyond 50 yards against Detroit on October 19, hitting a 50-yarder in the second quarter and a personal-best 55-yarder in the fourth quarter to briefly tie the game. Gramatica's 55-yarder is also the second longest in team history and the longest ever by a Buccaneer in a home game. In addition, Gramatica nailed a 42-yarder at the end of regulation in Washington on October 1 to send the game into overtime.

Gramatica finished the month of October by making his last nine field goals, including shots from 26 and 47 yards last Sunday in the Buccaneers' critical victory over Minnesota. He also drove five of his eight kickoffs well into the end zone in that contest, helping hold the potent Vikings' offense to an average drive start of their own 22-yard line.

Buccaneer players have combined to win seven Player of the Month awards since Head Coach Tony Dungy took over in 1996. In addition to Gramatica's haul, DT Warren Sapp has twice been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month (September, 1997 and September, 1999), FB Mike Alstott was tabbed as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in November of 1996 and WR Karl Williams was named both NFC Special Teams Player of the Month and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for his performance in December of 1996.

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