Or so he said.
"We're not going to give up. It doesn't matter. We'll take on the world. We've been doing it from the beginning," the jubilant kicker said after redeeming himself by booting a 41-yard field goal to beat Atlanta 27-24 and nudge the Bucs closer to their first playoff berth since they won the Super Bowl three seasons ago.
"The world picked us not to be very good and we've managed to prove the world wrong quite a few times," Bryant added. "We've just got to do it one more time to get to the playoffs."
The Bucs (10-5) also gained a share of first place in the NFC South heading into the final week of the season. They're tied with Carolina, which lost to Dallas, and can win the division with a victory over New Orleans at home next week.
Atlanta (8-7), which hosts Carolina next week, remained mathematically alive in the playoff race but will need to beat the Panthers and gets lots of help from other teams to earn a wild-card spot.
The Bucs and Falcons both wasted opportunities to win in the extra period. Atlanta's Todd Peterson had a 28-yarder blocked after Tampa fumbled on the overtime kickoff and Bryant shanked a 27-yarder that would have won it six minutes later.
Chris Simms threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, and Cadillac Williams ran for 150 yards to go over 1,000 for the season, including a 6-yard burst that tied the game 24-24 in the closing seconds of regulation.
Vick threw for 161 yards and two TDs and looked like he might conquer an old nemesis -- the Bucs defense -- when he led a 79-yard drive to put the Falcons ahead 24-17 on T.J. Duckett 's 2-yard run.
Vick, who is 2-5 against Tampa Bay and has had some of the worst games of his career against the Bucs, scrambled for 7 yards on third-and-7 and threw 37 yards to Michael Jenkins on third-and-4 from the Bucs 39 to set up the score.
But for the second time in just over a month, the Falcons defense couldn't protect a fourth-quarter lead against a Tampa Bay offense that's shown steady improvement with Simms at quarterback and Williams putting together six 100-yard games on the ground.
Atlanta coach Jim Mora considered trying to run the clock out when the Falcons got the ball for the last time with just over two minutes left in overtime. But team officials were unable to determine how a tie would affect the club's chances of making the playoffs.
"We couldn't come up with a solid, solid answer, and I'm not really one to play for ties. ... If someone had said: 'If you tie this game and win next week, you're in the playoffs,' play for a tie," Mora said.
A poor snap foiled Bryant's first kick in overtime. The snap on the second try wasn't much better, but the kicker got it through the uprights.
"I just have to keep reminding myself that that the game is officially over," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "That was a real gut check. Things did not look for good for a while."
Statistically, Vick had perhaps his best day against the Bucs defense last month when he threw for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. But he still walked away frustrated after losing a fumble that set up a winning field goal for Tampa Bay in the final minute.
The Bucs have always matched up well against the Atlanta quarterback because of their exceptional team speed. Sixteen of their 20 sacks of Vick have come in the last four meetings between the clubs, including four in Week 16.
"I'm drained," Vick said. "Two games with these guys, pretty much two similar-type games we didn't pull out at the end. ...It's been a tough season."
Simms threw TD passes of 9 yards to Jameel Cook and 13 yards to Mike Alstott, the latter set up when Dewayne White knocked the ball loose from Vick after a 3-yard run and recovered at the Atlanta 29.
Notes: A moment of silence was observed before the game for James Dungy, the 18-year-old son of ex-Bucs and current Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy who was found dead Thursday. ... Hall left the game in the second half with a shoulder strain. ... With 1,097 yards, Williams has set a Tampa Bay rookie record.