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Chris Godwin or Ndamukong Suh | Week 13 Game Ball

Chris Godwin set a team record and was dominant all over the field, while Ndamukong Suh spurred a second-half shutout and had two third-down sacks…Carmen Vitali and Scott Smith make their suggestions for the Game Ball vote


Who deserves the Game Ball for the Bucs' downing of their division rivals on Sunday? Vote now!

Chances are if a Game Ball was tossed out after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, it was snagged by Chris Godwin. He caught just about everything else that afternoon.

I will let Carmen Vitali go into more detail about Godwin's remarkable performance below, but suffice it to say the fifth-year receiver made quite a case for himself. Can anyone challenge him for our Week 13 Game Ball? That's what we're here to discuss, though you will make the final decision.

As we have all season, Carmen and I will be offering our suggestions for the Game Ball after every victory. You then get to vote – with four total choices, actually – and you'll even qualify to win some cool prizes if you do. See the bottom of this article for all of that. Since we are not allowed to pick the same player, the order of selection sometimes matters and it's Carmen's turn to go first. For the third week in a row – following Mike Evans' history-making moment in Week 11 and Leonard Fournette's four-touchdown detonation in Week 12 – it really, really matters. Like, a lot.

As such, it is up to me to pick a worthy candidate to campaign against Godwin. Fortunately, there are some outstanding choices. Rob Gronkowski hauled in two touchdowns for the third time this season, and he and Tom Brady pushed their career TD-connection total to 90, second-most in NFL history. Speaking of Brady, he threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns and is now the league leader in both categories. Moreover, he ran his all-time record against Atlanta to 10-0, in which he has thrown 28 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. Mike Evans (seven catches for 99 yards) and Leonard Fournette (92 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown) had very nice outings as well. All the while, the offensive line allowed nary a sack and only one QB hit even though Brady dropped back 51 times.

On defense, both Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea had two sacks and Carlton Davis returned from a lengthy injury absence to break up three passes, recover a fumble and provide excellent coverage on star tight end Kyle Pitts. So, like I said, there are plenty of good options, so let's get to it.

Carmen Vitali: WR Chris Godwin

Easy like Sunday morning – or rather, afternoon – which is what Chris Godwin made his record-breaking performance of 15 catches for 143 yards in Atlanta look like. Those 15 catches in a single game are the most ever by a Buccaneer player and if that wasn't enough, it's the most catches in a single game by any player across the league this season.

Godwin said after the game that as a receiver, getting involved early helps. Well, he had five catches for 33 yards on the first drive alone. I'd say that's a pretty good start. It built the foundation for an all-around insane performance that gets better the more you look at it. Not only are Godwin's outright yardage numbers impressive, but he was responsible for seven of the Bucs' 25 first downs in the game, with six of the seven coming through the air and one on an end-around rush because Godwin's hands must have gotten tired of catching the ball all the time.

Godwin was productive until the very end of the game – his long on the day actually came in the fourth quarter. It was a 36-yard pass on a post to the opposite side of where Godwin had been aligned wide. Brady threw it 22 yards and Godwin took it 14 more given that he had gotten behind Atlanta's linebackers and was in no-man's land before the Falcons' defenders could converge. He covered over 50 yards before all was said and done, according to NGS. So, yeah, when his coaches say he can line up and run routes all over the field – they mean it.

Oh, and in the process of doing all this, Godwin surpassed Mark Carrier for the third-most receptions in team history. Carrier had 321. And get this: Carrier had 15 games with over 100 receiving yards in his career and Godwin's 143 in Atlanta gave him his 15th career game with over 100 receiving yards, tying Carrier for second-most in team history. They both now sit behind Mike Evans, who has a whopping 30 such games.

But don't take my word for it on Godwin's greatness. I'll just let Head Coach Bruce Arians and tight end Rob Gronkowski do it for me:

"Chris, he is what he is. Great player, one of the best in the league," said Arians. "That's what he's always been. He has the ability to play outside also, but he is lethal inside. Obviously, the way he blocks is huge and gives you so much in between the numbers."

Sorry, Scott. I just don't know how you're going to top those character witnesses for anyone else this game.

Scott Smith: DL Ndamukong Suh

Well, I'm sure that Arians and Gronkowski would have had very nice things to say about Ndamukong Suh, too, had they been asked. They weren't, but Arians did note that one of the keys to the Bucs holding Atlanta to just one offensive touchdown (none after Atlanta's opening drive), was getting pressure up the middle. And you know who did that? Mr. Suh, and his interior-line buddy Vita Vea. Both had 2.0 sacks, accounting for most of the Bucs' takedowns of Matt Ryan on Sunday.

"I thought the inside games were really good, especially when the linebackers were hitting gaps and opening those guys up, but they both got some on their own too," said Arians. "When we can get that internal pressure, it's tough to block those guys."

Both of Suh's sacks were of the very best variety. Well, the second-best, I guess, as a strip-sack that leads to a turnover is probably the best outcome for a pass rusher. But getting your team off the field on third down is a close second and Suh did that twice. The game started with three straight touchdown drives, as the Falcons matched Tampa Bay's game-opening score with one of their own. The Buccaneers then took their second possession the length of the field for another touchdown, but the Falcons couldn't match this time thanks to Suh. Facing a third-and-four at his own 43, Ryan dropped back to pass but was quickly overwhelmed by Suh for a five-yard sack. A punt ensued.

The Buccaneers seemed to be in control of the game heading into halftime with a 10-point lead, but a shocking three-yard pick-six by defensive lineman Marlon Davidson with 22 seconds left suddenly made things a bit uncomfortable for the visitors. That was especially true because Atlanta was due to receive the opening kickoff in the third quarter. The Bucs' defense managed to get a takeaway to prevent a score on the opening drive but the offense followed with a three-and-out so Atlanta was still in position to seize the momentum and take their first lead early in the second half.

Suh said no to that. The Falcons managed to get the ball across midfield but faced a third-and-seven at the Bucs' 40. Even a completion short of the sticks could have set Atlanta's excellent kicker, Younghoe Koo, up for a game-tying field goal. Koo never got a chance as Suh barreled into the backfield again and dropped Ryan for an eight-yard sack.

If we're using Next Gen Stats, well they say that Suh also had three quarterback pressures and two hurries, and his 6.7% sack rate on his pass rush snaps was his highest in a game this season. Listen, I understand that Godwin is an awfully appealing candidate this week, but please give my guy your consideration. Remember, this game looked like it would be a nail-biter to the end at halftime but the fourth quarter was actually a pretty comfortable viewing experience. That was only the case because the defense completely shut Ryan and company down in the second half, and I contend it was Suh that led that charge.

Who deserves the Game Ball for the Bucs' downing of their division rivals on Sunday? Vote now!

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