With the Buccaneers and Vikings tied at 17 halfway through the fourth quarter of their Week 1 matchup, it was up to Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield to lead his offense down the field for a score to put his team ahead.
The most energizing play of the drive came when Mayfield stiff-armed Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. for five yards on an “angry run” along the right sideline. Five plays later, the Buccaneers took the lead for good on a field goal, taking the 20-17 win behind their new starting QB’s aggressive play.
Joining NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt on Angry Chats on NFL+, Mayfield spoke about the viral stiff-arm and broke down the play, saying that while it’s not usually his aim to get physical, he does embrace the tactic when the opportunity presents itself.
“I do enjoy it. I wouldn’t say that I want to live in that aspect and that’d be my forté. But when you gotta do it, you gotta do it,” Mayfield said. “It’s a great weapon to use to keep them away from you, extend it and get to the sideline. At that point, we needed a little spark, so there was no better way to do it than that way.”
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Mayfield explained to Brandt that the original play design was not supposed to involve him taking the ball, but when defenders broke through the line quickly, he took the ball himself.
“What we’re looking for right there is we’re trying to put a long drive together, burn some clock especially. The mentality for that is use as much clock as possible, then end up in the end zone, that’s obviously always the goal,” Mayfield described. “Got a simple concept right there. Not even supposed to be pulling this ball, but I saw the end cross face. … We don’t even have any edge protection, so once I got out there, Byron definitely had the angle on me. So I had to realize I was gonna have to get angry with it, use the stiff arm, try to extend it as long as possible and try and protect myself. But there’s a little chip on the shoulder when you run the ball.”
Overall, Mayfield was 21-of-34 passing for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns, adding on eight rushing attempts, including both the aforementioned run and a fourth-and-1 conversion on the play immediately preceding it.
Having come into Tampa Bay in the offseason and worked his way into the starting role, Mayfield’s performance last Sunday not only validated the choice of making him starter but also gave Bucs fans a taste of the QB’s well-known intensity, with the announcers even commenting after the stiff-arm play that “that’s the Baker Mayfield we know!”
Mayfield and the Buccaneers will try to keep the positive spark going in Week 2 when they face off against the Chicago Bears (0-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
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