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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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A Special Day for the Specialists

Data Crunch: Both kicker Chase McLaughlin and punter Jake Camarda showed off their long-range capabilities in Sunday's win over the Vikings, while Chris Godwin climbed up another prominent Buccaneers list


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put a new kicker onstage in Sunday's 2023 season opener in Minnesota, and he delivered a stunning first act. Chase McLaughlin's 57-yard field goal with just under five minutes left in regulation gave his new team a 20-17 victory over the Vikings and the franchise's third straight opening-week victory.

McLaughlin's kicked established a new career long for him and tied for the fifth-longest field goal in Buccaneers franchise history.

Longest Field Goals Made, Buccaneers History

1. Matt Bryant, 62, vs. Philadelphia, 10/22/06

2. Chandler Catanzaro, 59, vs. Cleveland, 10/21/18

3t. Matt Gay, 58, at L.A. Rams, 9/29/19

3t. Kyle Brindza, 58, at Houston, 9/27/15

5t. Chase McLaughlin, 57, at Minnesota, 9/10/23

5t. Connor Barth, 57, vs. Washington, 9/30/12

5t. Michael Husted, 57, at L.A. Raiders, 12/19/93

The Buccaneers had signed McLaughlin in large part because they had been lacking a long-range element in their kicking game in recent seasons. That has been McLaughlin's specialty, as he has now made 18 of his 22 attempts from 50 yards and beyond since he first latched on with the Chargers in 2019. Since the 2019 season began, McLaughlin ranks second in the NFL in field goal success rate from 50-plus yards.

Best Field Goal Pct., 50-Plus Yards, NFL, 2019-23

Table inside Article
Kicker Team(s) Made Att. Pct.
Evan McPherson CIN 14 17 82.4%
Chase McLaughlin Seven teams* 18 22 81.8%
Chris Boswell PIT 17 21 81.0%
Daniel Carlson LV 21 26 80.8&
Graham Gano WAS/CAR/NYG 20 25 80.0%
Younghoe Koo ATL 20 25 80.0%

(* McLaughlin has kicked for the Buccaneers, Colts, Browns, Jets, Jaguars, 49ers and Chargers.)

McLaughlin, who also made a 36-yard field goal and two extra points, wasn't the only Tampa Bay kicking specialist who had an impactful afternoon in Minnesota. Punter Jake Camarda had punts of 63 and 60 yards, dropped two inside the Vikings' 20-yard line and finished with a gross average of 54.5 yards on six kicks. That's the second-highest single-game punting average (minimum of five punts) in franchise history, trailing only the record he set last year as a rookie. Camarda already owns the top three spots, in only 18 games played.

Highest Single-Game Gross Punting Average, Buccaneers History (minimum five)

1. Jake Camarda, 59.5, vs. L.A. Rams, 11/6/22

2. Jake Camarda, 54.5, at Minnesota, 9/10/23

3. Jake Camarda, 53.4, vs. Baltimore, 10/27/22

4. Michael Koenen, 52.5, vs. Detroit, 9/11/11

5t. Tom Tupa, 52.0, at New Orleans, 12/1/02

5t. Tom Tupa, 52.0, at New Orleans, 12/7/03

After McLaughlin's go-ahead field goal, the Buccaneers' defense forced one final three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense with four minutes to play. Baker Mayfield and company then engineered a classic "four-minute drill," gaining three first downs and running 10 plays to burn through the remainder of the Vikings timeouts and the time left on the clock. The final game-sealing first down came on a gutsy 11-yard out on third-and-10 to wide receiver Chris Godwin, who stretched out to make a fingertip catch and then managed to get a knee down inbounds.

That was part of a five-catch, 51-yard outing for the seventh-year receiver, and that yardage total allowed him to move up two spots on a chart of the most productive offensive players in franchise annals, passing former running backs Michael Pittman and Doug Martin. Godwin now has 5,751 career yards from scrimmage, which moves him into fifth place on the Bucs' all-time list.

Most Yards from Scrimmage, Buccaneers History

Table inside Article
Player Pos. Seasons Yards
Mike Evans WR 2014-2023 10,435
James Wilder RB 1981-89 9,449
Warrick Dunn RB 1997-2001; 08 7,690
Mike Alstott FB 1996-2007 7,372
Chris Godwin WR 2017-23 5,751

Longest Active Streaks of Games with Five-Plus Receptions, NFL

1. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers…15

2. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys…10

3t. Keenan Allen, Chargers…9

3t. Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals…9

3t. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins…9

Mike Evans, seen above with a commanding lead in that category, led the Bucs on Sunday with six catches for 66 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Evans now has 82 touchdown receptions in his career, which is tied with Anquan Boldin for the 28th most in NFL history. Assuming he continues to score touchdowns at his typical rate, Evans will be moving rapidly up that list. One more puts him in a tie for 25th, two more for a tie for 21st and three more for a tie for 17th.

Evans also tied another iconic name on that above list in terms of games start. He made his 137th start for the Buccaneers on Sunday, tying Mike Alstott for sixth most in team annals. He needs eight more starts to catch former Pro Bowl center Tony Mayberry for fifth place.

Mayfield completed 21 of 34 passes for 173 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 94.4 passer rating. Most importantly, he helped the Buccaneers get the win. Mayfield is the first quarterback to win his starting debut for Tampa Bay since Ryan Fitzpatrick did so against the New York Jets on December 12, 2017. In all 10 quarterbacks have won in their first Buccaneers start, but only one other has done so in a season-opener. That was Super Bowl champion Brad Johnson, who helped the Bucs beat Dallas, 10-6, on September 9, 2001.

On defense, the Buccaneers sacked Kirk Cousins twice, got eights on him and made six tackles for loss. The first sack belonged to safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who timed his blitz well and hit the unsuspecting quarterback hard enough to dislodge the ball. Winfield also recovered the fumble at the Vikings' 18, setting up a field goal. That was the 10th sack of Winfield's young career, which is already the highest career total by a safety in Buccaneers history. It's also the most by any defensive back since he came into the league in 2020. Winfield is the only defensive back in the NFL since at least 2000 with 10-plus sacks, five or more forced fumbles and five or more fumble recoveries in his first four seasons.

Most Sacks, NFL Defensive Backs, 2020-23

1. Antoine Winfield Jr., Buccaneers…10.0

2. Jamal Adams, Seahawks…9.5

3. Donovan Wilson, Cowboys…8.5

4. Brandon Jones, Dolphins…8.0

5. Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals/Giants…7.5

The Buccaneers are carrying 13 rookies on their 53-man roster, and several of them made a notable impact on the game. Defensive lineman Calijah Kancey recorded a third-down quarterback hit that forced an errant throw and a punt on the Vikings' first drive. Cody Mauch started at right guard and played every offensive snap, helping limit the Vikings to one sack of Mayfield. Cornerback Josh Hayes had a tackle in punt coverage, as did safety Kaevon Merriweather. Running back Sean Tucker ran five times and caught two passes for a total of 24 yards.

But the biggest plays turned in by Buccaneer rookies on Sunday both happened in almost the exact same spot on the field. Near the end of the first half, safety and slot corner Christian Izien tore a ball away from Vikings wideout K.J. Osborn for an interception right by the Bucs' goal line. In the the third quarter, by that same goal line in the middle of the field, wide receiver Trey Palmer caught a seven-yard touchdown pass to give Tampa Bay a 17-10 lead.

Not including 1987 replacement players during the players' strike, Izien is just the fourth Buccaneer to snare an interception in his first career game, joining E.J. Biggers in 2010, Ray Isom in 1987 (not in a replacement game) and Cecil Johnson in 1977. And, using the same parameters, Palmer is just the seventh Buccaneer to catch a touchdown pass in his very first game, joining Mike Williams (2010), Alex Smith (2005), Lawrence Dawsey (1991), Bruce Perkins (1990), Mark Carrier (1987) and Calvin Magee (1985).

Additional Notes:

- The Buccaneers have now won three straight opening games, having defeated Dallas in Week One in each of the past two seasons. That ties the 1979-81 teams for the longest such stretch in team history.

- Linebacker Devin White led the Bucs with 12 tackles against the Vikings, marking the 21st time in his career that he has recorded 10 or more stops. That's the sixth highest total of 10+-tackle games in the NFL since 2019.

- Tampa Bay's defense held Minnesota to 41 rushing yards. Since the arrival of Todd Bowles in 2019, the Buccaneers have held 16 opponents to fewer than 50 rushing yards in a game. That's the most such occurrences for any defense in the NFL in that span.

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