The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the New Orleans Saints 20-10 on Sunday and also lost quarterback Baker Mayfield to injury late in the game. With the Bucs still in contention for the NFC South title, what’s next for Mayfield and Tampa Bay in Week 18?
Injury Occurs on Two-Point Conversion Attempt
➕ Mayfield took a hard hit to the ribs by Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu on a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter
➕ Mathieu hit Mayfield just after he released the pass, which fell incomplete
➕ Mayfield was seen gingerly walking to the locker room after the game
Coach Todd Bowles Provides Injury Update
➕ On Monday, Bowles told reporters “Ribs are sore but he’ll be fine by Sunday”
➕ This indicates Mayfield is expected to play in the Bucs’ Week 18 game against the Panthers
➡️ No fracture or serious damage to Mayfield’s ribs based on initial tests
Mayfield Struggled Against Saints Before Injury
➕ Went 22/33 for 309 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
➕ Inconsistency continued to plague Mayfield
➕ Took several big hits even before injury occurred
Saints Defenders Annoyed Bucs with Late Hits
➕ OT Tristan Wirfs admitted frustration with late hits on Mayfield by Saints
➕ DT David Onyemata hit Mayfield late earlier this season
➕ Mathieu claimed he did nothing wrong on hit that injured Mayfield
What’s at Stake for Bucs in Week 18?
➕ With a win over the Panthers, Bucs would clinch NFC South
➕ Loss could put playoff spot in jeopardy
➕ Mayfield’s health could impact offense’s performance
Table: Baker Mayfield’s Stats with Bucs
The Bucs traded for Mayfield heading into Week 14 after injuries to Tom Brady and backup Blaine Gabbert. Though Mayfield initially provided a spark, he has struggled with turnovers and consistency.
Sunday’s game against Carolina is crucial not just for playoff seeding but also to build postseason momentum. The Bucs will need Mayfield to limit mistakes, make some big plays, and hopefully avoid further injury.
While Mayfield’s ribs are sore, he seems intent on playing through pain in the regular season finale.
“I’ll be good. I’ll get this thing checked out tomorrow but I expect to be just fine,” Mayfield said after the game.
His teammates also voiced confidence in Mayfield’s toughness and leadership. “He’s ready to rock,” receiver Mike Evans said. “We’ll rally behind Bake and get this win.”
With weapons like Evans, Chris Godwin, and Julio Jones, a hot Mayfield could carry Tampa Bay on a playoff run reminiscent of their Super Bowl season. But he’ll need to prove the Saints game was an aberration and not the start of a late-season decline.
Mayfield remains confident despite the ups and downs. “We still have everything right in front of us,” he stated. Pride and a division crown are on the line in Carolina.
While another shot to the ribs could jeopardize his availability, odds are that nothing short of a broken bone would keep the fiery Mayfield off the field with playoff implications in the balance.