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Gramatica Makes Three-Point Landing

October 07, 2002|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The celebration--a slight jump before he ran off the field pumping his fists--was a little bit muted by Bill Gramatica's standards.

That's the way the Arizona Cardinals want it.

Gramatica kicked a 50-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to lift Arizona to a 16-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

After tearing a knee ligament last season while celebrating a field goal, Gramatica toned down his joy.

"The snap was perfect, the hold was perfect, I couldn't ask for anything better," said Gramatica, who also made field goals of 41 and 28 yards. "It was just an unbelievable feeling, and when I jumped, I made sure to land with both feet at the same time."

Reminded the Cardinals don't want Gramatica jumping anymore, the kicker shrugged. "I couldn't help it, I just jumped," he said.

Arizona improved to 3-2, its best start since it began 3-2 in 1991. "This is exactly what I envisioned 18 months ago when I started putting these guys together," Arizona Coach Dave McGinnis said. "We've got an open date and we're 3-2 and that's sweet, sweet, sweet!"

It was the second consecutive week a kicker stopped the Panthers (3-2). Last week, Carolina's Shayne Graham missed a 24-yarder with 16 seconds left that could have sent the Panthers into overtime in their 17-14 loss to Green Bay. This time it was Gramatica--as well as four Carolina turnovers, including two fumbles by running back Lamar Smith.

On Carolina's closing drive, Damien Anderson, a rookie activated from the practice squad to fill in at running back, had a pair of catch-and-runs for 12 yards, and Jake Plummer gained six yards on a quarterback draw to get the ball to midfield and give Gramatica a chance.

Plummer completed 18 of 40 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. He threw one interception.

Rodney Peete completed 20 of 34 for 196 yards and had two passes intercepted. Smith had only 49 yards in 18 carries.

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