TAMPA – Beleaguered rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo might have saved more than just the Buccaneers season on Monday night. He might have saved his NFL career.
After missing two of his first three field-goal tries, Aguayo made a 38-yarder with time expiring to give the Bucs a 17-14 season-saving win over the Panthers.
The win gave left the Bucs with a 2-3 record, including a 2-0 mark in the NFC South, where the Bucs have now beaten both Carolina and division-leading Atlanta on the road.
Aguayo’s game-winning field goal was only the third he’s made in eight tries this season, but he said he was confident he’d make one count when it mattered most.
“You have to stay in the present,’’ Aguayo told the Buccaneers radio network. “I knew another opportunity was coming. At the end of the day I made the one that counts. That’s all that matters.’’
The victory broke a three-game losing streak for the Bucs, who overcame a lot more than just the sloppy work of the kicker they traded back into the second round of the draft to get last May.
The Bucs also committed several crippling penalties, including two that turned third-and-1 situations into third-and-long and a running-into-the kicker penalty that helped Carolina tie the game.
But the Bucs did a few things in this one that they haven’t in recent game, including forcing four takeaways and getting a 101-yard rushing effort out of backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Quarterback Jameis Winston had a bounce-back game as well, completing 18 of 30 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown while also running four times for six yards.