On Sunday, second-year kicker Martin Gramatica finished out the best season by a placekicker in Buccaneer history by snapping another team record
Just minutes after hitting a clutch, 43-yard field goal into the wind to tie the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' game at Green Bay in the fourth quarter, kicker Martin Gramatica pushed a 40-yarder five feet to the right.
Not only would that kick have put the Bucs up 17-14 with less than 10 seconds to play, it would have also made Gramatica the most accurate single-season kicker in the Bucs' 25-year history.
Instead, Gramatica finished the season with an 82.4% success rate on 34 field goal tries, hitting 28 and missing just six. That 29th make would have given him an 85.3% rate, just ahead of Steve Christie's 85.2% in 1990.
That's not an indictment; it's a graphic example of how spectacular Gramatica has been in 2000, just his second year in the league. He may have missed that record, but he set five others, heading off a long list of Buccaneer standards that were re-written in 2000.
Let's take a look.
Gramatica, in 2000, was the most prolific scorer in team history, just about any way you want to measure it.
His 28 field goals made were one more than the record he set last year, and his 42 extra points made were four more than the old record, set by the immortal Obed Ariri in 1984.
That helped Gramatica obliterate the scoring record, which was set all of 12 months ago by a rookie kicker named…Martin Gramatica. After becoming the first player in team history to reach triple digits in scoring, with 106 points, the former Kansas State star zoomed past that mark with 126 points this year.
Gramatica also provided his share of long-range thrills, just as he had as rookie. This time around, he made a remarkable five field goals of 50 or more yards in just seven tries, the former number being a new team record. His 55-yarder against Detroit on October 19 tied for the second-longest in team history. Along the way, Gramatica hit on 16 consecutive field goals during the second half of the season, tying a record originally set by Michael Husted in 1994 and '95.
After shooting past Lee Roy Selmon with two sacks on November 26 against Buffalo, Sapp set a new mark every time he got to another quarterback.
Sapp's two takedowns against the Bills pushed his season total to 13.5, eclipsing a Selmon record (13) that had stood since 1977. Sapp got three more in December, including one on Sunday in Green Bay against arch-rival Brett Favre, to finish with 16.5. It ranks as one of the three best sack seasons by a defensive tackle in NFL history.
Led by Sapp and DE Marcus Jones, who would have tied Selmon's record if Sapp hadn't erased it, the Bucs racked up 55 sacks, a full 25% more than the previous record of 44, set in 1997.
Tampa Bay also scored five defensive touchdowns, tying the team record first set in 1981, and blocked seven kicks (four field goals and five punts) to set a new team mark. The previous record was five, in 1978.
Bucs' Rushing Attack
Though Green Bay held the suddenly potent Bucs' running game to 2.9 yards per tote (23 for 67) on Sunday, this still ranks as the most efficient ground team in franchise history.
Tampa Bay finished with 2,066 rushing yards, it's fourth-best mark ever. It got that 1.15 miles of ground gain on just 490 carries, averaging 4.22 yards per tote. That's the best per-carry mark in team history, topping the 4.11 posted by the 1998 squad.
Many other records hung in the balance on Sunday in the season finale at Green Bay, some of which fell and some of which will remain in the books for at least another year.
For instance, Warrick Dunn just fell short of the individual yards per carry season record of 4.6, owned by James Wilder. He came into the finale with a 4.7-yard average, but was held to 40 yards on 15 carries and finished the day at 4.57. On the other hand, the team scoring margin record was not hurt by the narrow loss, as the Bucs finished with 119 more points than their opponents in 2000. The previous best Tampa Bay scoring margin was 47 points, set in 1981.
Here's a look at some of the records the Bucs were chasing on Sunday and the eventual fate of those marks.
· Single-season rushing touchdowns? No. The Bucs came into the day with 18, just one shy of their 1995 team record, but scored only one TD in Green Bay, on a pass.
· Individual interceptions? No. The Bucs got two picks against Favre, but none by Donnie Abraham, who needed a pair to tie Cedric Brown's record of nine, set in 1981.
· Best extra-point percentage? Yes. Gramatica tied the mark of 100%, something that had been done eight previous times, including by Gramatica last year.
· Quarterback rushing touchdowns? Well, sort of. Shaun King had already tied Steve Young's 1986 record of five coming into today's game, but could have owned the mark alone with one more. Instead, he ran in a two-point conversion but threw his only touchdown, meaning he'll continue to share the record.
· Rushing first downs? Surprisingly, no. This one seemed well in reach, with the Bucs at 109 and needing just six more to eclipse the mark of 114, set in 1984. On this afternoon, however, 14 of the Bucs' 16 first downs would come through the air, leaving the Bucs with 111.
· Most touchdown receptions? Almost, but not quite. Keyshawn Johnson scored the Bucs only TD of the day on an 18-yard catch, giving him eight scores through the air in 2000. The team record remains nine, achieved three times, most recently by Mark Carrier in 1989.
· Fewest fumbles, season? Why, yes. The Bucs had just 15 fumbles (11 lost) in 2000, coming into the Packers game. King fumbled once and recovered the ball himself during the game, so the Bucs finished with 16 fumbles. Their lowest total before 2000 was 18, recorded in 1994.
· Touchdown passes? Wasn't going to happen. King had 17 on the season, needing four more to tie the team record of 21. That would have been quite a feat in Sunday's conditions at Green Bay. King did through one touchdown pass to finish with 18.
There were, of course, other records that the team set before Sunday even rolled around marks that were simply added to or left alone, such as:
· 43 touchdowns · 388 points · 7 return touchdowns (4 INTs, 1 fumble, 1 punt, 1 FG block)
All in all, it was a remarkable year of team and individual accomplishments for the Buccaneers. None of the statistics that the Bucs will accumulate in next weekend's playoff opener, nor the following games the team hopes to play, will be added to the regular-season statistics.
There's a whole new set of statistics kept for playoff games. And that means, of course, a whole new list of records to be broken.