June 22, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — After suffering an injury to his right ankle on the opening drive of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 27-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Baker Mayfield said he expects to have an MRI Monday.

Mayfield was getting lengthy postgame treatment in the locker room — so much so that he missed his own media availability at the podium and instead did it at his locker. He was limping significantly, barely able to put weight on the injured ankle.

“He finished the rest of the game, but I’ll have to wait until he gets checked out to see how bad it is after the game,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Once he puts it up, that’s gonna be the telltale sign.”

Mayfield added: “Adrenaline and…is a hell of a drug.”

The former Browns QB suffered the injury on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line, although he said he’s not entirely sure what or whom injured his ankle. He laid on the turf grimacing for several seconds, grabbing his leg.

Mayfield came out for a total of four plays, retreating to the blue medical tent where he was examined by head athletic trainer Bobby Slater before coming back in. He completed 20-of-30 passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked 6.0 times though, including a lost fumble on third-and-4 with 1:36 to go and his team trailing 27-20.

“Didn’t feel very good. Just had Bobby and the team tape me up again as much as they possibly could and go from there, but it’ll be pretty sore tomorrow,” said Mayfield, who still made plays outside the pocket, including a 14-yard scramble up the middle late in the third quarter, and a designed rollout where he threw a 23-yard touchdown to wide receiver Mike Evans.

Mayfield explained the decision-making process that led to his return, saying: “If they do the tests and run around on it — [I’ll go in]. If I feel like I’d be hindering us, there’s a different side of it. I felt like I was good to go.”

If the MRI doesn’t reveal significant structural damage, Mayfield anticipates a heavy dose of treatment and will take mental reps early on as the Bucs prepare for the Carolina Panthers in their next game.

Despite dropping to 4-7, the Bucs are just one game back in the NFC South after the Atlanta Falcons (5-6) defeated the New Orleans Saints (5-6) Sunday for a tie for first place.

Standings aside, Mayfield still expressed frustration over the team’s current level of play.

Mayfield called red zone scoring their “Achilles heel” on offense this season, believing Bucs would have three more wins if they were more effective in scoring position. He also said he the team needs to hone in on the details in critical down and distance situations, although Sunday’s loss was just as much about the Bucs’ inability to stop the Colts on defense.

There were blown assignments, like a play-action pass from Gardner Minshew on fourth-and-1 that traveled 30 yards and into the hands of Moe Allie-Cox, who was completely unaccounted for. Rookie inside linebacker SirVocea Dennis — making his first NFL start in place of injured captain Lavonte David, who missed the game due to a groin injury — was injured making the tackle but returned to finish the game.

“I’m fine. It’s football,” Dennis said. “Just got the wind knocked out of me. It’s football. It happens.”

The Bucs’ defense also surrendered a 2-yard touchdown scramble to Minshew and allowed the Colts to capitalize off Mayfield’s interception with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Taylor, followed by a 1-yard run by Taylor to seal the victory.

“We’re one game out of first place, but the way we’re playing, it’s gotta be turned around,” Bowles said. “It’s gotta be turned around. It feels like we’re 10 games out and we’re one game out, but we’ve gotta play better, and we understand that as a unit.”

Mayfield added: “Until everybody gets pissed off enough to get it fixed, there will be no changes. I know where I’m gonna head at the end of this week. I’ll get my job fixed and try to drag as many people along as well.”

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