We nearly made it through an entire Bucs-Saints game without there being something shady happen, but Tyrann Mathieu made sure to fill the annual quota.
Late in Sunday's loss the Bucs were trying to mount some sort of a comeback and ended up finding the endzone thanks to a touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Chris Godwin. Nothing happened on that play, rather it was a hit on the ensuing conversion attempt that might have a long lasting impact on the Bucs moving forward.
On the two-point conversion attempt, Mathieu launched himself into Mayfield's midsection well after the ball had been thrown. A flag was thrown and a personal foul penalty was called, but Mayfield was sent hobbling to the sideline in obvious pain.
He ended up coming out for the second attempt -- official ruled that Chris Godwin had stepped out of bounds and therefore illegally touched the ball -- but it was clear something was off with Mayfield. He was slow to leave the field and it took a little longer than usual for him to reach the podium after the game.
Baker Mayfield injury update after taking cheap shot from Tyrann Mathieu in Week 17
After the game, Mayfield spoke with the media and gave a not-so-enthusiastic update on the injury he suffered on the dirty hit.
“Ribs don’t feel too great right now. X-rays, as of right now, are negative so that’s good but we’ll do more exams to see what’s really bugging me," Mayfield said. "I’ll be able to deal with it and go from there.”
Not terrible but not exactly great, either.
Tampa Bay's season is on the line next week, as a win punches a playoff ticket while a loss likely writes some pink slips. Luckily the Bucs get the 2-14 Panthers, but as we learned this week taking care of business is a lot easier said than done.
If Mayfield isn't 100 percent, it adds even more stress to a situation that shouldn't even exist in the first place. The injury puts further emphasis on why winning on Sunday over New Orleans was so crucial, as it would have allowed the Bucs to potentially rest Mayfield in Week 18 rather than play him as a means of avoiding a collapse that sees Tampa Bay miss the playoffs entirely.
Chances are Baker ends up playing, even if is ribs are banged up. There could be a scenario where he doesn't need to play the whole game -- which would be ideal -- but the Bucs are facing a situation where the Panthers are going to want to play spoiler and it feels like anything is possible.