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Bryant kicks amazing 62-yard field goal to lift Bucs

Oct 22, 2006 - 8:26 PM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Matt Bryant gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers an improbable win while sending the Philadelphia Eagles to an agonizing loss with one of the most amazing kicks in NFL history.

Bryant booted a 62-yard field goal - the second-longest kick in NFL history - as time expired to lift the Buccaneers to a thrilling 23-21 victory over the Eagles.

Bryant's kick that sailed over the crossbar with room to spare only has been bested by 63-yard field goals by Tom Dempsey on November 8, 1970 and Jason Elam on October 25, 1998.

"I hate to say this because it's going to sound like I'm lying. As soon as I hit it I said, 'Well, maybe,' but I didn't hit it as good as I thought I could have hit it," Bryant said. "I saw it probably going three quarters of the way and then I lost sight of it and then somebody jumped on me and I heard a cannon go off and I said, 'Well, I guess I made it.'"

Coach Jon Gruden attempting the field goal seemed like a longshot since Bryant's longest previous make was 50 yards last season. But the five-year veteran more than rewarded the faith shown by his coach.

"Yes, I was stunned," Gruden said. "I don't make a living doing this - kicking 61- or 62-yard field goals to determine outcomes of games. I am a big believer in working hard and probability and studying football and trying to manufacture plays and all that. But to count on a 62-yarder on a day like this is hard to do."

Bryant also had not kicked a field goal longer than 28 yards this season before connecting from 44 yards with 2:49 remaining that gave the Bucs a 20-14 lead.

The field goal by Bryant helped the Bucs (2-4) rally after squandering a 17-0 third-quarter lead.

Donovan McNabb, who had a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns by cornerback Ronde Barber, threw for three touchdowns, the final one a 52-yard connection to speedy running back Brian Westbrook with 33 seconds left which gave the Eagles a 21-20 lead.

Westbrook made his way to the end zone by shaking off a tackle from linebacker Derrick Brooks around midfield and putting a fake on cornerback Juran Bolden.

Westbrook had seven catches for 113 yards and rushed for 101 yards for the Eagles (4-3), who lost their second straight game despite outgaining the Bucs, 506-196.

It also marked the second straight game the Eagles lost on a field goal as time expired. John Carney kicked a 31-yard field goal to send the Eagles to a 27-24 loss at New Orleans a week ago.

"It was definitely disappointing to go up by a point with 33 seconds left and to let a team get down to the 50 or so and kick a field goal," Westbrook said. "We were all excited about our comeback but we have to find a way as a team to finish games. We have to find a way as an offense to start games faster and not give up points."

The Bucs took over on their own 36 with 27 seconds left. After an incompletion, rookie Bruce Gradkowski found Michael Clayton for 11 yards and he scrambled for nine yards before Gruden called on Bryant.

It was day of exciting plays for the Bucs, who forced four turnovers, including three interceptions of McNabb. And it again was Barber victimizing McNabb.

Four years ago in the NFC championship game, Barber returned an interception by McNabb 92 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to clinch the Bucs' first trip to the Super Bowl.

Barber returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and brought back a pick 66 yards for a score with 5:19 left in the third quarter, giving the Bucs a 17-0 advantage.

"We've had a bunch of [opportunities] in the course of the season. In the secondary, especially, and we haven't taken advantage of them," Barber said. "I told these guys it's not all right anymore to leave these opportunities out there. I talked the talk, I guess I walked the walk."

While the Bucs were making big plays, the Eagles were making mistakes.

Rookie wide receiver Jason Avant lost a fumble inside the Bucs' 25 on the Eagles' opening possession and McNabb was intercepted twice in the half.

"We had too many turnovers," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "Four turnovers is too many turnovers against a good football team. We have to do a better job than that."

With eight seconds left in the half and without a timeout from the Tampa Bay 8, McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith, who promptly was tackled at the 2, allowing time to run out in the half.

McNabb finally got the NFL's top-ranked offense into the end zone with a 12-yard touchdown pass to fullback Thomas Tapeh with 36 seconds left in the third quarter to pull the Eagles within 17-7.

"I think Donovan started a little slower than he wanted to today," Westbrook said. "I think he got things going a little bit in the second half. He's our leader, he's the guy we're going to lean on especially when times get rough and we know he can perform well and it's up to us, the guys around him, to get things going for him."

Midway through the fourth quarter, McNabb connected with Reggie Brown for a seven-yard TD to pull the Eagles within 17-14.

McNabb, who appeared to be sick at times from the excessive heat, completed 22-of-35 passes for 302 yards and three interceptions. He also rushed for 76 yards on six attempts.

Gradkowski played mistake-free, completing 13-of-26 passes for 104 yards. He relied on the running of Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who rushed for 82 yards on 23 attempts.

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