Sunday was already a huge day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it was made even more important because of all the drama that led up to it.
Rather than trash talk between teams, all of the drama was an inside job with Todd Bowles becoming the center of controversy after his comments last Sunday. While Tampa Bay managed to get a win over Carolina, folks couldn't help but notice that Chris Godwin logged exactly zero catches and was targeted just three times.
Bowles initially chalked this up to Godwin getting subbed out, citing his neck injury as a possible reason, and Bucs fans shredded him. It was very quickly pointed out that Godwin's snap counts were essentially the same as they've been all year, with Godwin's wife chiming in to call Bowles out for 'lying on Chris' with his comments.
It was a gigantic mess, and looked like something that might distract everyone from a game on Sunday the Bucs needed to win.
Thankfully that happened, and to make matters even better Godwin got involved late to help set up a game-winning touchdown.
Chris Godwin comments on his usage in Bucs 29-25 win over Falcons
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Bucs trailing by a field goal, Baker Mayfield connected with Godwin on a 32-yard pass on third down that got Tampa Bay to Atlanta's 15 yard line. It was a massive momentum shifting moment in the game, one that out the Bucs in a position to score a touchdown two plays later and seal a victory that propelled them back into first place.
After the game, Godwin addressed the elephant in the room.
He chose to avoid talking about the drama that happened during the week and instead reiterated how happy he was to be a part of the offense and to have helped get a much-needed win.
"It definitely feels good, but mainly because it was a play that helped set up a touchdown," Godwin said. "Everything that happened in the past is in the past. I'm excited to be able to contribute to a win, and it was a big win that we needed."
After recording zero catches last Sunday, Godwin reeled in five receptions while leading the team in receiving yards. Part of the reason for the contentious atmosphere had to do with frustrations from fans over Godwin's usage -- or lack thereof -- but also a star player seeming unhappy with how things were going.
Godwin wasted no time clearing the air about his love for the Bucs after the win.
"I'm grateful to be here," Godwin made sure to note. "I try to voice that and express that to a lot of people because I really am."
The flip side to this coin is that Mike Evans was somehow the odd-man-out in the offese on Sunday. Like Godwin last week, he was hardly featured and finished the game with just a single catch for eight yards. That reception didn't occur until 5:27 left in the third quarter, and a week after getting 162 yards Evans finished with less production than David Moore.
Dave Canales needs to figure how to get his two best players involved in teh same gameplan, but for how we can all breathe easy knowing that Godwin was underutalized rather than broken.