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Baker Mayfield Carves Up Packers as Bucs Keep Pace in South

Baker Mayfield's 381 passing yards and four touchdowns led the Buccaneers to a critical 34-20 road win in Green Bay and allowed them to remain in a tie with the Saints atop the NFC South


Baker Mayfield turned in a career performance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns in a critical 34-20 win over the Green Bay Packers. The win allowed the Bucs to remain in a tie for first place in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints, who beat the New York Giants on Sunday as both teams improved to 7-7. The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Carolina Panthers to fall to 6-8.

"He's meant everything," said Head Coach Todd Bowles of Mayfield's play and resiliency this season, his first as the team's starting quarterback. "From a mental standpoint to a quarterback standpoint, making plays. From a toughness standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, he's done everything. He's checked all the boxes. He's doing all the right things now and I can't say enough about him."

Mayfield completed 22 of 28 passes and was not intercepted, though he was sacked five times and lost a fumble. He threw for the second-highest yardage total of his career and tossed four or more touchdown passes for the fourth time, and his first time as a Buccaneer. Mayfield's passer rating was a perfect 158.3, the first time in his career he has hit that mark.

"Our team was really prepared to come in here," said Mayfield. "Just like we talked about, that mentality, a playoff mentality to come in here with just one thing in mind and that was to find a way to win. And we did that. I just couldn't be happier with this group."

Mayfield threw touchdown passes to Mike Evans, Rachaad White, Ko Kieft and David Moore. He led three straight touchdown drives in the second half; the Bucs only other possession of the half was the final one of the game, in which he kneeled to end it after running the final 4:18 off the clock. That drive came after Logan Hall recovered a Jordan Love fumble at midfield, the Buccaneers' only takeaway of the game.

The Bucs took their final two-touchdown lead on a 52-yard catch and run by Moore for his first touchdown as a Buccaneer. The play had to be reviewed because Moore had the ball swatted from his hand as he crossed the goal line, but it was upheld. WR Chris Godwin did not score in the game, but he did haul in 10 passes for 155 yards, marking the third-highest single-game total of his career. Godwin was particularly reliable on third downs, where the Buccaneers converted on seven of 11 tries.

"The guy's just so consistent, man," said Mayfield of Godwin. "I can't say enough about him. True stud, true professional. He's never complained, he's never done any of that. He's just done the things he needs to do, and today he was balling. He made some clutch catches, for sure. He didn't get in the end zone but he was definitely the guy to keep the chains moving."

Overall, the Buccaneers produced a season-high 452 yards of offense, including 99 yards on 27 carries. White finished with 139 yards from scrimmage, marking his fourth straight game over 100.

"We talked this week about having a complementary game on offense," said Mayfield. "I think our guys really took that to heart and it was great. We came in here with a mentality of being able to run the football but our passing game was there and our guys stuck to it. A lot of guys involved, a lot of guys made a play here and there and everybody contributed."

Green Bay had it's only lead of the game in the first quarter after a five-yard Tucker Kraft touchdown catch that followed a fumble recovery at the Bucs' four-yard line. That turnover came immediately after the Buccaneers had gotten a fourth-down stop inside their five-yard line. Overall, Tampa Bay held the Packers to 3221 yards of offense, including just 60 on 17 carries. Love completed 29 of 39 passes for 284 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. He was sacked twice. Antoine Winfield Jr. led the way with 10 tackles and a pass defensed while Lavonte David added nine tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack shared with Shaq Barrett and a pass defensed.

"We got off the field, made some two-minute plays on defense, scored before the half on offense, special teams didn't really hurt us, we were good on field goals," said Bowles. "We got the running game going to finish the game off at the end, got a great stop on defense and we had the passing game going. It's December football. It's kind of building for us. We're gaining confidence, the young guys are getting better."

Love's 17-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Reed in the third quarter briefly pulled the Packers to within three points but Mayfield put it away with two touchdowns to unlikely targets. Both Kieft and Moore scored their first touchdowns of the season in the second half. Five different players put up more than 40 receiving yards.

"That was huge for us," said Bowles. "Not putting all the pressure on two guys and that's opening things up for other guys and they're starting to come through. It's team football."

The Buccaneers took a 13-10 lead into halftime and had a yardage edge at the break of 211 to 147. The Bucs leaned on White early in the half and he had 58 yards from scrimmage by halftime. When Mayfield did drop back to pass, he was sharp, completing 12 of 14 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown, including seven for 108 to Godwin. However, he was sacked three times, including one by Kingsley Enagbare that resulted in the aforementioned Kraft score. Mayfield's touchdown pass was a 19-yarder to Evans that completed a 75-yard drive. The Bucs took the lead just before halftime on Chase McLaughlin's second field goal to complete a successful two-minute drill.

The Bucs started the game at their own 25 after Deven Thompkins called for a fair catch on the opening kickoff. Mayfield got the Bucs a first down on the first play, faking a handoff and throwing a quick out to Godwin for 11 yards. Two plays later, Mayfield stood in the pocket for a long time before finding White for an outlet pass that was good for 24 yards to the Green Bay 37. Two White runs made it third-and-four at the 31 and Mayfield kept the drive moving with a hard 12-yard pass to Godwin. An end-around to Thompkins didn't work, losing a yard, and two plays later Mayfield was sacked back at the 21 by DL Kenny Clark, leading to a field goal try. Chase McLaughlin made it from 39 yards and the Bucs had the first points of the game.

The Packers also started their first drive with a quick out, in this case with Love hitting WR Romeo Doubs for a gain of seven. Jones, back from a three-game injury absence, broke free around right end on his very first carry to pick up 20 yards to the Bucs' 48. After another five-yard run by Jones, the back slipped trying to cut back on second down and was buried for a one-yard loss by LB K.J. Britt. Love backpedaled in the pocket to buy time on third down and find Reed for 20 yards to the 24. Jones ran three more times for a total of 19 yards but David forced a third-and-one with a quick tackle on Jones' second-down run. The Packers tried Jones up the gut again but this time he ran into a wall and he lost a yard. The Packers went for it on fourth-and-two from the four and Love's pass to Reed on an out along the goal line was out of his reach.

White got the Bucs some breathing room on a four-yard first-down carry out to the nine, but the Packers got the ball right back inside the 10. Mayfield took a tick too long to throw and had the ball swatted out from behind by Enagbare. Enagbare also recovered the loose ball at the Bucs' four. Jones was stuffed by David again on first down but a long-developing tight end screen to Kraft worked for a five-yard touchdown.

After another Thompkins fair catch, White darted over right guard for eight yards and then around right tackle for five more to bring the first quarter to a close. The first play of the second quarter was a good one, too, with Mayfield finding Evans in a seam for 14 yards. On the next play, Mayfield faked a handoff, rolled right and hit Godwin on the run for 25 more down to the Green Bay 23. Three plays later, on third-and-six, Mayfield had time to throw and found Evans running vertically into the end zone down the left seam for a 19-yard touchdown connection.

The Bucs brought heat on Love to begin the next drive, with Nelson eventually dropping him for a two-yard sack. A short completion and a neutral zone infraction call against Barrett made it third-and-two and the Packers converted with a short pass to Kraft that he turned into an eight-yard gain. On the next play, Kraft got wide open down the left sideline and Love found him for a gain of 36 to the Bucs' 23. A great open-field tackle by Izien two plays later made it third-and-nine and the Bucs got off the field when Jones was run out of bounds on a short pass well short of the sticks. Anders Carlson came on to tie the game at 10-10 on a 36-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the first half.

The Bucs' next drive started out in the wrong direction as a snap infraction by Robert Hainsey cost them five yards. RB Chase Edmonds got that back plus four more out to the 29 on a carry up the middle. Two plays later, on third-and-four, Clark got to Mayfield again and hit his arm to force an incompletion, leading to a punt. Camarda blasted a high, hanging 65-yard punt that was downed at the Packers' four.

Green Bay got away from their goal line with the help of a yellow flag. Love went deep down the right sideline to Reed and Izien broke it up but was called for pass interference at the Green Bay 36. Two plays later, Love hit Doubs on a crossing route that picked up 11 yards, almost to midfield. David blitzed Love into a hurried throw-away before a screen to Jones gained four to make it third-and-six just inside Bucs' territory. The ball moved back into Green Bay's half of the field on a delay of game call and a short pass to Reed got just five on third down, leading to the Packers' first punt of the game. Thompkins fair caught it at the Bucs' 11.

After a short pass to Evans, the Bucs faced a third-and-three, Godwin ran a hitch in the right flat and Mayfield got it to him for a first down at the 26. Mayfield immediately pushed it downfield on the next two plays, hitting Moore for a gain of 16 down the right numbers and threading a 25-yarder to Godwin in traffic on a post. The Bucs called a timeout with the ball a the Green Bay 33 and 36 seconds left in the half. Mayfield was sacked for a loss of nine yards by Lukas Van Ness and the Bucs burned their second timeout. A holding call on the next play made it second-and-29 with 26 seconds left. Mayfield fired down the right side to Godwin for another 25-yard gain. After one more timeout, Mayfield had to throw it away on third down and McLaughlin came on to hit a 46-yard field goal, giving the Bucs a 13-10 lead with 10 seconds left before halftime.

The Packers got the ball first in the second half, starting at their 25, and DL Calijah Kancey burst through the line to force a throw-away by Love. Before third-and-seven, the Bucs had to burn a timeout due to substitution issues when the Packers went into hurry-up. However, Love's long throw to Reed on the left sideline fell incomplete. The Bucs got the ball back at their own 34 after the punt.

The drive hit a third-and-six right away but Mayfield scrambled out of a tight pocket and threw downfield to Evans for a gain of 18. White got hit in the backfield on the next play and lost two yards, and his second-down pass to WR Trey Palmer was incomplete. On third-and-12, Mayfield threw out left to Godwin on a screen and he followed his blockers for a 15-yard gain and a first down at the Green Bay 31. After another screen to Palmer gained five, White took off out of the backfield and ran up the right seam and Mayfield hit him in stride. He made one tackler miss inside the five and made it untouched to the end zone on a 26-yard touchdown. McLaughlin hit the extra point to give the Bucs a 20-10 lead.

A good open-field tackle by Britt on a short pass to Jones put Green Bay into a third-and-five and WR Dontayvion Wicks caught a short pass in traffic and broke upfield for a gain of 22. Winfield caused Wicks to fumble on the next play but the receiver was able to get back on top of the ball for a gain of two. After an incompletion on a deep shot to TE Ben Sims, Love converted another third down by dropping a 21-yard lob down to Wicks in a gap in the zone. That put the ball at the Bucs' 25 but the Packers lost 10 yards on a holding call on C Josh Myers drawn by DL Vita Vea. WR Malik Heath made a remarkable sliding catch to get 15 back and the Packers hurried to the line and go the ball to WR Bo Melton for a first down at the 13. David dropped RB Patrick Taylor for a loss of three on a short pass to the right, and other swing pass to Taylor lost another yard. However, Love escaped pressure on third down and dashed out to the right, throwing on the run to Reed, who tapped his toes just inbounds for a 17-yard touchdown. That trimmed the Bucs' lead back to three points with four minutes left in the third quarter.

After a kickoff touchback, Mayfield aired it out again, hitting TE Cade Otton on a vertical route up the right seam for a gain of 22. However, Clark once again made his way to the quarterback on the next play for an eight-yard sack. Undeterred Mayfield fired another seam pass on the right, this time to Godwin for 21 more yards to the Packers' 40. Three plays later, on third-and-eight, Evans drew a pass interference call on CB Corey Ballantine to make it first down at the 27. Two plays later, the Bucs' line picked up a blitz and Mayfield hit Otton on a crossing route for 22 yards down to the two. A fade to Evans on first down didn't work but a play-action toss to Kieft on a shallow out did the trick as Kieft fell across the right front pylon.

The third quarter came to an end on Green Bay's next play, a four-yard catch by Reed. After switching sides, the Packers got close to midfield on a screen to Wicks that worked for 20 yards thanks to two broken tackles. Love went back to Wicks on a comebacker down the right numbers for 19 more into Bucs territory. The Packers threw another screen to Reed on the left side and it was good for five more, and Jones ran right to get within a yard of the sticks. The Packers challenged the spot but the call was upheld, but Love converted the third down with a sneak to the 21. The Bucs' defense forced another third down at the 15 and David prevented a catch by Kraft on a Love pass thrown under heavy pressure. Carlson came on to make it a one-score game with a 33-yard field goal.

A scramble for no yards and a six-yard White run up the gut put the Bucs in third-and-four at the start of the next drive and Mayfield moved the chains with an 11-yard strike to Godwin on a square-in. The Bucs faced another third down at their own 48 and got a lot more than the four yards they needed. Mayfield zipped a pass through defenders to Moore, who then turned upfield and eluded several tacklers to race 52 yards to the end zone. The play was reviewed because Moore had the ball swiped out of his hand as he was crossing the goal line, but the call was upheld.

Love completed five straight passes to start the next drive, getting the ball across midfield and down to the Bucs' 30. However, his next three passes fell incomplete and the Packers had to go for it on fourth-and-10. David and Shaq Barrett tracked him down for a sack, forcing a fumble that Hall recovered at the Packers' 49.

The Bucs kept it on the ground to burn clock and got aa total of eight yards on three White carries, with Green Bay using a timeout after each one. The Bucs elected to go for it on fourth-and-two and White bashed up the middle for three yards as the clock ran down below three minutes. Mayfield then kneeled out the rest of the clock.

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