With three-and-a-half minutes left in Sunday’s NFC South showdown with the Falcons, Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano sent his kicker, Connor Barth, out to try a 56-yard field goal in hopes of taking a 26-24 lead.
Barth’s kick came up short and the Buccaneers were unable to get the football back with enough time left to do anything but try a Hail Mary as the clock ran out. While acknowledging after the game that there were other options discussed on the Bucs’ sideline at that point, with the ball at the Atlanta 38 and the offense facing a fourth-and-seven, Schiano said he would make the same decision if given a second chance.
And Barth says he would make it.
“Nine times out of 10 I’ll put that through,” he said. “I’d like to have it back, but you move on. That’s what it’s all about.”
Indeed, Barth hit a 57-yarder at Raymond James Stadium earlier this year against Washington. In just 52 games as the Bucs’ kicker, he has already made 10 field goals of 50 or more yards. He once made three on a single afternoon in Miami, in 2009. He almost added another one on Sunday, hitting from 48 yards out earlier in the fourth quarter, going in the same direction as his last attempt.
This time, it came up short, but that one miss obviously did nothing to shake Barth’s belief in himself.
“It was a tough kick, I’m not going to lie about it,” he said. “It’s a tough kick off that paint. But I’m definitely good enough to make it and Coach obviously has confidence in me, which is awesome. You’ve just got to put it behind you.”
Barth is well-known as a humorist in the Bucs’ locker room, the kind of guy who can go off on a seemingly endless stream-of-consciousness run of jokes. He’s grown his share of ironic mustaches, and he obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously, but there’s no doubt that he is rock-solid in his self-confidence as a kicker. In fact, surrounding media thought he was joking when he suggested that the thin air in Denver was a chance for him to break the NFL’s longest-field-goal record, but that was one of the few times he didn’t laugh along. One gets the definite impression that if Barth is sent out to try a 64-yarder at the end of either half at Sports Authority Field on Sunday he’s going to be surprised if he misses.
Of course, part of remaining confident as a kicker – as it is with a cornerback – is understanding that you’re not going to succeed 100 percent of the time, and being able to move on quickly after a miss. That wasn’t a problem for Barth. He wanted the win over Atlanta as badly as any of his teammates, but afterwards he was able to enjoy a nice dinner with his girlfriend and parents rather than laying away in bed thinking about the one in four kicks he didn’t make.
“It’s very nice to know your coach has confidence in you, and nine times out of ten you’ll make it,” said Barth. “It’s a tough kick, but it’s pretty cut-and-dried: It didn’t go through. I’m kicking great, I think. I had a great rest of the game; I can’t be mad about one kick. I’m always 100 percent positive. I have full confidence in myself. Nothing’s changed; you’ve just got to put it behind.”