Jan 15, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of a 2024 NFC wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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Bucs, Baker Mayfield test Lions’ talent, Ford Field noise

Baker Mayfield has been given fair warning. His voice may be no match at times for the raucous crowd in Detroit.

The Tampa Bay quarterback and his offensive teammates will not only have to battle the Lions’ defense but also the ear-splitting noise at Detroit’s Ford Field in the teams’ NFC divisional playoff round matchup Sunday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Rams experienced that in Detroit’s first playoff victory in 32 years this past Sunday night, a 24-23 thriller.

“Just talking to some of those Rams guys,” Mayfield said, “they said it was the loudest thing they’ve ever heard. So, we’ve got to be completely ready for that. It just comes down to everybody knowing exactly what the game plan is.”

The Lions’ winless drought in the postseason finally ended, but they didn’t have to wait long for another home playoff game, courtesy of NFC North Division rival Green Bay. The Packers’ upset of No. 2 seed Dallas allowed the third-seeded Lions (13-5) to play host to the fourth-seeded Buccaneers (10-8).

Tampa Bay advanced with a 32-9 thumping of Philadelphia on Monday night.

Tampa Bay has relied on its defense en route to winning six of its past seven games, holding opponents to an average of 15.3 points.

“We’ve gotten tougher over the course of the past few weeks,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “Everybody has finally gotten back and playing at the same time. … Communication has gotten a lot better, everybody’s trusting each other next to them and they’re playing for each other.”

Mayfield threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles, but he had a much different experience in a home game against the Lions earlier this season.

Detroit won 20-6 on Oct. 15 as Mayfield was limited to 206 passing yards and was intercepted once. The Lions also shut down the Bucs’ rushing game, limiting it to 2.9 yards per carry.

“I missed a ton of throws in that game,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, I have to play better. When there’s plays to be had, we have to take advantage of them.”

In contrast, Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns and top target Amon-Ra St. Brown had 12 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. Detroit needed to rely on Goff’s arm, as its rushing game produced only 1.8 yards per carry.

Detroit coach Dan Campbell is hoping for a more balanced attack this time around.

“There’s some things we need to do because we do them well,” he said. “We can’t go away from that. But by the same token, we’ve got to be smart about how we attack them.

“Some of this — the sledgehammer against the steel door — can only last for so long. We have to find a way to stay efficient. We certainly can’t have TFLs (tackles for loss). We know we can’t drop back 50 times in this game, either.”

Goff was sharp against the Rams, completing 22 of 27 passes against his former team for 277 yards and a touchdown.

In home games during the regular season, he completed 70.1 percent of his throws, including 19 touchdowns, compared to six interceptions.

The Bucs’ defense will need to pressure him to end the Lions’ fairy-tale season.

“They’re a better team than when we faced them,” Campbell said. “They’re playing better football but we’re better, too. And that’s the way it should be.”

Detroit’s main injury concern is wide receiver Kalif Raymond, who missed the first-round game with a knee injury. He didn’t participate in Wednesday’s walk-through.

A quartet of Tampa Bay players — linebackers Shaquil Barrett (ankle) and Yaya Diaby (shoulder), running back Chase Edmonds (toe) and wide receiver Chris Godwin (knee) — sat out the walkthrough.

– Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
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