The Tampa Bay Buccaneers walked right in and defeated the Minnesota Vikings with an impressive Week 1 victory. Baker Mayfield got his first win as the Buccaneers starting quarterback, and head coach Todd Bowles couldn’t have been happier with his performance, as he told reporters following the game.
“He played a gutsy, tough, mentally tough ballgame, and to make that throw at the end to Chris right there without even flinching. He was hit a few times, but he stuck with it. Baker’s a winner. He’s done this before. And the guys really love to rally around him.”
The Buccaneers were able to get out of Week 1 with a 20-17 despite playing on the road and facing a talented Minnesota offense, and the success of Mayfield was a big reason as to why.
Baker Mayfield’s Buccaneers Debut was a Success
All offseason long, questions swirled about whether or not Mayfield could step up and win enough games as the team’s starter. Filling the shoes of someone as good as Tom Brady makes it even that much more difficult.
But, after Week 1, there is no question that Mayfield deserved the QB1 job over Kyle Trask. Mayfield went 21-of-34 for 173 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second quarter, the Vikings held a 10-3 lead, but Mayfield threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans to send it into halftime all knotted up at 10.
In the final minutes, Mayfield completed a massive third-and-10 pass to Chris Godwin to seal the game and give the Bucs the win, and the play he made brought a huge reaction from Godwin after the game (h/t Jenna Laine of ESPN).
“Baker made a good throw. Harrison Smith tried to undercut it a little bit working to the flat, and it was great placement. Then it’s just make the catch, make sure we get the first down and seal the game.”
Bowles also added that the throw was “huge for us” and credited the toughness of Mayfield.
Lavonte David Sang Praises for Baker Mayfield
If that wasn’t enough, Lavonte David, who has been a staple on the Buccaneers’ defense for years, was quick to give Mayfield his props after the game as well:
“We just told Baker, ‘Be Baker.’ When he first came in, ‘Hey, man, just be yourself, have that swagger. When you come into the locker room, guys will embrace you, guys got your back no matter what, bro. On the defensive side, when we get the chance to be on the field, we want to give you the ball back as much as we can.’ And that’s what we did today.”
Baker was himself and looked like the quarterback who had success with the Los Angeles Rams at the end of the 2022 season. In five games with the Rams, Mayfield threw for 850 yards with four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, winning two of those games despite the odds being stacked against him.
If Baker Mayfield can be even close to that player, the Buccaneers are going to find a way to win some games and remain competitive in the NFC South. Next up for the Buccaneers is a home game against the Chicago Bears.