Buccaneers’ Baker Mayfield Has Blunt Response on Playoff Injury

Baker Mayfield played through injury to lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs.

Getty Baker Mayfield played through injury to lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs.

He came into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Week 18 matchup against the Panthers already listed as questionable thanks to a rib injury he suffered against the Saints last week. He had not even played 15 minutes in the Buccaneers’ must-win game to punch their ticket to the NFL playoffs when he suffered an ankle injury and went limping to the sideline. Still, Baker Mayfield stayed on the field, helping Tampa gut out an ugly but effective 9-0 win to cinch the team’s third straight NFC South title.

It was not a scintillating performance from Mayfield, who was 20-for-32 passing with 137 yards. He was sacked three times but, most important, he threw no interceptions and the Bucs, despite one scare, committed no turnovers. That was enough to allow the Buccaneers defense to shut down a hapless Carolina offense.

He didn’t exactly feel great about it. But Baker Mayfield stayed on the field.

Asked about where his injuries were most acute, Mayfield was blunt. “A little bit all over,” he said with a smile.

Coach Todd Bowles was asked whether Mayfield would be ready for the playoffs. He was tepid in his response. “As for Baker, I will see how he feels and how he goes through treatment this week, and we will make that determination as the week goes,” Bowles said.

Despite Injury, Baker Mayfield Earned Some Redemption

There was some irony, as Mayfield himself pointed out, in helping the Buccaneers win the NFC South division at Bank of America Stadium, the very place where, a little more than a year ago, Baker Mayfield’s career appeared to screech to a halt. Mayfield was traded to Carolina last summer from Cleveland, and was cut by the Panthers in December.

He signed with the Buccaneers last spring. On Sunday, he was back at B-of-A on his way to the playoffs, while the Panthers are 2-15. Mayfield, though, has been careful all season about keeping the focus on his current teammates and not veering into vengeance for old wrongs.

“This room we’re standing in right now is kinda where I found out I wasn’t going to be part of the team (Carolina) anymore,” Mayfield said. “So, there’s a lot of things that bring me back here. … Just keep it about us. Like I said, can’t say enough about this team, stuff we’ve been through this year, handle it correctly and find a way to win five of six to get in the playoffs and win the division.”

Buccaneers Will Host a Playoff Game

As for the Buccaneers, they will now host a playoff game, a remarkable accomplishment for a team on a roller-coaster ride of a season. The Bucs started 3-1 before losing six of seven games to fall to 4-7. But they rallied with five wins in their final six games to go to 9-8, good enough to beat out New Orleans for the division crown.

“Just handling adversity in the right way,” Mayfield said when asked about the ups and downs. “I can’t say enough about everyone in our organization, just helping me be comfortable in the situation we’re in, helping me as we go, learning as we go. It just, been through a lot. But had a lot of help along the way.”

Of course, h has been banged up the last two weeks. The hope is that some rest this week will help the Buccaneers relocate the Baker Mayfield of old.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I will be happy to have a week of rest, to heal up a little bit and see who we are playing.”



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