K Patrick Murray - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay fans and media members were caught off guard when the Bucs’ 53-man roster was announced on August 30 and veteran Connor Barth had been released in favor of first-year kicker Patrick Murray. When asked about releasing Barth, head coach Lovie Smith told the media that Murray had won the job in camp and the team had full confidence in the former Fordham standout.
In the Bucs’ 20-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Tampa Bay moved the ball to the Panthers 29-yard line on the first drive of the second half before a third-down sack pushed the Bucs back to the 36-yard line. Down 10-0, most assumed Murray would get a shot at a 53-yard field goal attempt, but instead Smith opted to punt and back the Panthers up.
On Wednesday PewterReport.com spoke to Murray and asked him if he went to Smith in hopes of lobbying the head coach to let him attempt the long distance field goal. Murray was clear with his answer and was in no way was questioning Smith’s decision to punt instead of attempting the kick.
“That is coach’s call, whenever he tells me to go kick, that is when I go kick,” Murray said. “Coach Smith is the coach, whenever he tells me to go kick I will go kick.”
Smith briefly addressed the scenario following the game on Sunday.
“Whatever direction we’re going in, we set it,” Smith said in his post game press conference. “We knew exactly where the cutoff point was, and it was the 35-yard line.”
In college, Murray connected on four field goals of over 50 yards in 2012 – the most 50-yarders of any NCAA Division, including kicking a school-record 55-yarder at Cincinnati, as well as connecting on a 52-yard field goal against Lock Haven.
Had Smith called on him to attempt the field goal, Murray said he was confident it was within his range. The fact that the score was 17-14 late in the fourth quarter with the Bucs trailing opened Smith’s decision not to use Murray’s leg up for second guessing.
“In my opinion, 55 yards and in, should be pretty much automatic if you are an NFL kicker,” Murray said. “I can go back as far as 60, and in practice, I hit a 70-yarder but that was with a big wind behind me. You are always going to get some extra yards with the wind behind you. But I am confident in my leg, and I am confident that wherever Coach Smith puts me, that I will be able to do the job.”
Despite not getting a chance to kick his first career NFL field goal, Murray enjoyed seeing his first regular season action.
“When I first walked out there were definitely some butterflies and when they introduced the team and everybody got loud, it was the loudest stadium I have been in,” Murray said. “So there were a few butterflies but once the first whistle blew it was game time. And it was a special experience that I will remember my whole life.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
You gotta let the kid prove himself. If you’re going to cut your veteran kicker and then not let the new guy kick a 55 yarder, you’re sending negative vibes.
Based on the offense we saw last week, going forward he will get plenty of opportunities to test his leg, no need to rush it.
I think that’s what you miss with the difference between a 1st year and a veteran kicker.
The veteran would have been in the coach’s ear, and the coach would likely have put a veteran on the spot more quickly than he would a 1st year player.
That third down sack McCown took was so disappointing. Hopefully few drives end that was Sunday. Though we would obviously rather score TD’s, in these close NFL games Murray will get some key chances to kick under pressure.
We could have used a field goal after Jovorskie’s 54 yard rumble. Sadly, Mccown turned it over on the next play.
He’ll need to kick farther than 70 to help mccown if he’s at our thirty. Maybe more, because sometimes, he likes to go backwards (that trickster).
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Not kicking that FG was plain dumb.
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