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Roberto Aguayo needed redemption, and he was lucky enough to get a shot at it.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rookie kicker missed a field goal that would have given his team a lead with 3:33 left against the Carolina Panthers on Monday night. It was his fourth missed field goal in his first five NFL games, and it looked like he was going to have to fly home with that on his shoulders. It appeared the Buccaneers would have to consider a change at kicker on the way home, too.
But Aguayo, the Buccaneers’ controversial second-round pick, got lucky. He got another kick to win the game.
Jameis Winston made some very nice throws on a final drive, and Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy had a terrible face-mask penalty to give Aguayo a shot at the game-winner. And Aguayo sent the attempt right down the middle from 38 yards out. That gave the Buccaneers a 17-14 win, and sent the reigning NFC champion Panthers, who played without Cam Newton, to 1-4. Tampa Bay is 2-3.
As he lined up for the field goal on the final play of regulation, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden wondered on the broadcast if Aguayo was kicking for his NFL career. No pressure.
Maybe we’ll look back on that game-winning kick as a turning point in Aguayo’s career.
“It meant the world,” Aguayo said on ESPN after the game.
Before that final kick, the Buccaneers’ pick of Aguayo wasn’t looking too good. He missed two of his four field-goal attempts on Monday night, before nailing the game-winner. He had four misses in his first seven NFL attempts. The Buccaneers had some controversial play-calling before his 46-yard miss with 3:33 left, calling a conservative run on a third-and-9 right before a long attempt. They showed some faith in Aguayo there, and he missed wide left.
But Aguayo got another chance shortly after and delivered. One can only imagine how good that felt for him.
The Buccaneers’ pick of Aguayo in the second round will be debated for a long time. There’s a reason teams don’t select kickers that high. But on Monday night, Aguayo did his job. Finally.
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