K Matt Bryant made 10 of his 11 field goal tries in December, missing only from 53 yards
The New Year's celebrations have ended and the time has come to take down all the holiday decorations, but kicker Matt Bryant received a belated gift Wednesday when he was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December.
During the five games in that month, Bryant made 10 of his 11 field goal attempts, including a season-long 49-yarder in last week's loss to the Carolina Panthers. He also had two games (12/16 vs. Atlanta and 12/30 vs. Carolina) in which he went three-for-three on field goal tries. His only miss in the month came on a 53-yard try.
Bryant's award-winning December was a strong finish to what proved to be one of the best seasons by a placekicker in team history. The sixth-year veteran out of Baylor set career highs this season in field goals made (28), field goals attempted (33) and field goal percentage (84.8%). His 84.8% success rate very nearly broke the club record of 85.2 set by Steve Christie in 1990 and was the second-best mark in team history. Bryant also made all 34 of his extra-point attempts this season and scored 118 points overall, the third-highest total in team annals. Bryant is just the second player in team history score over 100 points in a single season, joining kicker Martin Gramatica, who did so three times.
Bryant's honor is the 13th Player of the Month award a member of the Buccaneers has won since 1996 and the second a Tampa Bay player has won this season. Linebacker Barrett Ruud was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
In addition, Bryant becomes only the second kicker in team history to take home an NFC Special Teams Player of the Month award. Gramatica won the award three times as a member of the Buccaneers in November of 1999, October of 2000 and most recently in December of 2002.
Perhaps Bryant's award will serve as a good luck charm. Gramatica made 11-of-12 field goals to win that third award at the end of 2002 – including five in the season finale at Champaign, Illinois – then went on to kick five field goals in three playoff games as the Bucs cruised to their first championship.
Bryant and the Bucs are hoping history will repeat itself.