Antoine Winfield Jr. didn’t want to miss his opportunity on Sunday in Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 31-9 win over Kansas City in Super Bowl LV.
Winfield showed Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill the peace sign after the Bucs broke up a Chiefs pass play on fourth down late in the second half with the Bucs comfortably ahead. Hill flashed a peace sign at Winfield in the teams’ first meeting in November upon scoring a touchdown.
When Winfield got the pass-breakup against Hill in the Super Bowl, the rookie safety risked drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty flag for some payback. Winfield tried to rationalize and justify his move to the media afterward — a penalty that will likely lead to a fine per Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. The penalty didn’t impact the outcome of the game with the Bucs in control.
“The taunting, it was something I just had to do,” Winfield said per NFL.com’s Kevin Patra. “When we played them earlier, Hill went off on us. He back-flipped in front of my face and gave me the peace sign. So it was only right that I gave him the peace sign right back to him at this moment. It felt amazing to be able to do that. I’m not even gonna lie.”
Winfield talked with his pads and hands — in other ways — with an interception, a couple of pass breakups, and six tackles. He helped the Bucs become the first team to hold the Chiefs to under 10 points since star quarterback Patrick Mahomes became a full-time starter in 2018.
The Bucs’ defense also avenged Hill’s monster Week 12 performance of 269 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 defeat, the last time the Bucs lost a game. Hill mustered seven catches for 73 yards in the Super Bowl.
Rowing the Boat
Winfield also added a nautical Twist for end zone celebrations, when he and some teammates “rowed the boat” after his interception — a slogan he took from his college days at Minnesota.
“Row the Boat, baby,” Winfield said per the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Andy Greder. “That’s a little celebration that we do down here. It was amazing to actually be able to Row the Boat down here after the interception. That was real cool.”
Winfield’s college head coach PJ Fleck started the “Row the Boat” slogan in honor of his late son and as a motivator for his football team, which doesn’t have a nautical mascot — Golden Gophers.
Winfield ironically finished his college career at Raymond James Stadium last year with an Outback Bowl win for Minnesota over Auburn and came back to stay after the Bucs drafted him in the second round.
He came to the NFL with the benefit of having learned the game from his father and former NFL star Antoine Winfield Sr., who never made a Super Bowl himself. The younger Winfield quickly became a playmaker in the Bucs secondary this season, and he had a legitimate shot at winning Defensive Rookie of the Year — won by Washington pass rusher Chase Young.
Winfield finished with 94 tackles, two forced fumbles, and an interception in the regular season plus another pick and forced fumble in the postseason while compiling 18 tackles.