With the Bucs' schedule elongated by the coming Monday night appearance, Tampa Bay players had Wednesday off in addition to the normal Tuesday break. That means Martin Gramatica wasn't on the grounds to learn that he had been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Even though it his second such award in just two seasons, and his fourth if Player of the Month accolades are included, it is still a prestigious honor, so Gramatica was contacted at home with the news.
He also gave his thoughts on the performance in Miami – three field goals, including a 46-yard game-winner in a driving rainstorm – that earned him this honor, as well as other issues surrounding last week's game and the one coming up.
How did you maintain your composure before the game-winning kick considering the adverse conditions and the intense pressure of the situation?
"The people that deserve the most credit for that have got to be (holder) Mark (Royals) and (snapper) Mo (Unutoa)," said Gramatica. "They've got to handle the ball with their hands. Those balls, they're slick enough by themselves, with the film on the 'kicking' ball. We don't get to break them in. To be able to handle the ball the way they did under those types of conditions, that made my job a lot easier. Like I said before, the guys up front did a tremendous job blocking. I didn't have to feel rushed, I didn't have to do anything different."
"I just told myself, treat it like it was dry, treat it like a turf game. Don't worry about the wet grass or anything. Just go out and kick it. Thanks to those guys, I was able to do that."
Is it true that you were not aware that the rain had picked up significantly shortly before and during that kick?
"Yes, that's true," he admitted. "I was watching the film, and I had thought that it was just a little sprinkle like it was earlier in the game. I had no idea it was raining that hard."
Did the treacherous footing cause you to slip on your first try of the day, a miss from 34 yards out?
"No, I just mis-hit it," said Gramatica. "It's just one of those things. Every once in a while you mis-hit them and sometimes they go in. I know I've mis-hit a few this year that have gone through. This time it just didn't go through."
What is the key to making field goals in pressure-packed situations?
"I believe that you just try to block everything out," he said. "Just treat it like a regular kick, like any other kick, like a first-quarter kick. I focus the same on a first-quarter kick that I do in the fourth. If I would have made the 34-yarder (in the first half), I wouldn't have been put in the position to kick the 46-yarder. We would have been up by three. I try to treat every field goal the same. Sometimes they go through, sometimes they don't. It's not lack of concentration or effort, I don't think."
Did you respond to some earlier trash-talking with an uncharacteristic gesture after the 46-yarder?
"That's just part of the game, you know?" said Gramatica. "I guess sometimes you just show different kinds of emotions, and that was the emotion I showed. I want to clarify something: I never shot him a bird. A lot of people are thinking I did, but that's not true at all. I would never do that. I know I get carried away, but that's something I would never do."
Are you the main offensive weapon for the Buccaneers?
"I don't see myself as that," he said. "I see the offense being the offense, and they're doing a good job of getting us into field goal range. I guess like we've always said, we play Buc ball and we do whatever it takes to win. If it takes field goals, we'll do it and we'll win. If it takes touchdowns, we'll get those if we need them. It really doesn't take too many points with the defense we have. We're really fortunate to have a tremendous defense. That gives a great deal of confidence to everybody, the offense, the defense and the special teams, knowing that with just a few points we've still got a chance to win. It's just a whole team effort. I'm sure everybody is criticizing the offense, but they're doing whatever it takes to win. They're putting us in field goal range, and if that's all we need, we'll take the win."
What can you take from last year's playoff stretch drive to help in a similar situation this season?
"Well, everything," said Gramatica. "I know what to expect. I know the emotions that are going to be in each game. I guess last year, it was pretty much the same case, we had to win to get in. This is the same thing this year, so we know what it's going to take. We're playing a great team, because St. Louis is hot again. We know what we need to do and we've got to take care of business."
What are your emotions regarding last year's playoff loss to the Rams?
"It's something you try to forget," he said. "I haven't watched the tape. I don't want to. If I see a thing on it on ESPN, I turn the TV off. It's just hard to watch, because we were so close to getting to the Super Bowl, to get to where we wanted to get. You can use that as motivation – I guess we used it this year – but each year is different. So we can't say that this is for revenge against St. Louis because I don't think it is. We go out to win every game. It doesn't matter if they beat us the year before or not, we're going to go out and do our best to win. I think we've just got to be ready on Monday."