TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Todd Bowles had a lot to talk about in his first “Bucs with Bowles” interview of the 2023 season. The Bucs pulled out a 20-17 win on the road against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, finishing the game with a critical 3rd down conversion, a pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield to wide receiver Chris Godwin.
Bowles said that his decision to go for a 1st down on 4th & 1 from the Bucs’ own 32-yard line late in the game was not a difficult one to make.
“I thought we were on a roll,” the coach said.
The roll wound up stalling in Vikings territory when Bowles opted to take another risk, a 57-yard field goal attempt by kicker Chase McLaughlin. The ball sailed through the uprights with room to spare, matching McLaughlin’s career high.
The decisions did not end there, however. Coming out of the two-minute warning, the Bucs faced a 3rd down & 10 and a Vikings crowd sensing a game-winning drive for their team.
Instead, a play was called for Mayfield to find Godwin streaking toward the right sideline. The pass was perfect. The catch – even better. Godwin initially grasped the football with his fingertips before securing it on his way to the ground.
The Bucs hit the field with one of the youngest and inexperienced rosters in team history, but plays were made. Plays that had a direct impact on the outcome of the game.
“Some of the names you don’t know yet, but you will,” Bowles said.
Safety Christian Izien fits that mold. An undrafted rookie player, Izien earned praise from Bowles during training camp and was a surprise starting player on the first official depth chart of the season.
With 23 seconds to play in the first half, Izien intercepted Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins at the Bucs goal line. Instead of a 17-10 halftime deficit, the Bucs went to the locker room tied at 10, after a slow start by the offense.
The Buccaneers will look to next week’s matchup – their home opener against the Chicago Bears. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 17.