Bucs QB Baker Mayfield Torn Up By Game-Costing Interception Vs. Lions

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With a chance to lead the Buccaneers to the NFC Championship Game, Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield flopped in the clutch, allowing the Lions to punch their ticket with a 31-23 victory in Detroit on Sunday.

With 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, Mayfield tossed a season-ending interception into the hands of Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes — the straw that broke Tampa Bay’s back and shattered its hopes of a post-Tom Brady run to the Super Bowl.

For Mayfield, who was bombarded with Brady comparisons upon joining the Buccaneers, the loss won’t be an easy one to get over.

“We felt like we were in it up until the last drive. It sucks, I feel like my heart just got ripped out, but football’s a complex game but it’s also simple. It comes down to taking care of the ball,” Mayfield told reporters postgame, per team-provided video. “And in two-minute drives like that, when you know you’re gonna have four downs to use, just a bad mistake by me. It sucks because I know what type of group we’ve had all year. We fought to get to this point, we fought to be in that game.”

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Mayfield added: “This ones gonna weigh on me for a while.”

Tampa Bay escaped a horrid NFC South with a 9-8 record to lead the division, giving the Mayfield-led Buccaneers a sliver of hope. Ultimately, that luck ran out despite Mayfield throwing three touchdowns and totaling 349 yards against Detroit.

The Lions scored 21 points in the second half, and came through defensively in the most critical of moments, sending Tampa Bay packing.

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“We weren’t good enough today,” Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said, per team-provided video. “They fought all year. I was very proud of them. They should be proud of each other for what they fought through and how they came through this season. We’ll reload, we’ll get some rest and we’ll come back next year.”

Mayfield, however, isn’t a sure return for Tampa Bay next season. The 28-year-old will return to free agency after his one-year audition deal with the Buccaneers this season, which may or may not sway the organization to give Mayfield another shot next season.

Detroit, on the other hand, advances to the franchise’s second-ever NFC title game, set to take on the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.

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