Baker Mayfield's resiliency fuels Bucs' comeback in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- With 1:16 to go in regulation trailing 25-22 in Week 14, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield heaved a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Godwin on a third-and-10 before finding tight end Cade Otton in the end zone to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 29-25 Sunday.

The Bucs (6-7) sit in a three-way tie for first in the NFC South with four games to go -- two of them intradivisional play -- with a 35% chance of winning the division, according to ESPN's Football Power Index, and are +160 favorites to win the division, according to ESPN BET.

With the loss, the Falcons' chances of winning the division fell from 76% to 34%. A loss Sunday wouldn't have meant the Bucs couldn't win the division, but it would have dropped their chances to 2%.

"I've been bragging about his mettle all year," coach Todd Bowles said of Mayfield's leadership, which was highlighted after the Falcons took the lead on a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Desmond Ridder and a 2-point conversion pass to Drake London with 3:30 left. "He's a guy that we rally around. He's a guy that puts us in position to win. He doesn't get rattled easy, and he came up with some plays."

Mayfield hadn't completed a pass of 5 or more air yards Sunday before that play against the Falcons' No. 8-ranked pass defense, but Mayfield found Godwin coming out of the slot on a corner route working against cornerback Dee Alford.

"He's just a competitor," Otton said of Mayfield. "He is kind of the identity we've taken as a team. We believe, we compete, we fight and we're going to make plays at the end of the day. Just having that belief throughout these games, every single play, it's going to put us in as good spot. ... We have a lot to clean up, but just that belief and fight gives us a chance."

Godwin spent the week trying to answer questions about why his production had fallen off after posting back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and it included not only a meeting with the coaching staff, but his wife, Mariah, taking to social media to share her frustrations. He came into the day with 606 yards and 53 receptions, both behind only Mike Evans on the team, and he had only one receiving touchdown on the year.

Godwin said he was happy to put the week behind him after recording five catches on 11 targets for a team-high 53 yards. But at one point he limped off the field gingerly with the training staff.

"You definitely need that grit. You need that intensity," Godwin said. "You need to be able to dig deep and make the plays when you need them. I think we have a lot of players on our team that have that in them. ... We put ourselves in a bit of a hole [on the season], but we're all determined to try and pull ourselves out of it."

Mayfield recognized a two-high safety look with man-coverage underneath and saw opportunity to hit Otton for the game winner in the corner of the end zone. Not even a holding penalty from Falcons safety Richie Grant could prevent the 11-yard score.

"All game they were trying to take away Mike, they were trying to take away Chris," Otton said. "So I knew there was going to be opportunity coming at some point, and I just wanted to be ready."

The catch was Otton's second of the game, and it was his fourth touchdown of the season.

"I saw the press and I just knew they weren't going to pay attention to Cade," said Mayfield, who threw his second go-ahead touchdown of the season after two in his first five years combined.

The stage had been set for this the past two weeks. Players and coaches have recognized the razor-thin margin of error. They couldn't afford any more hiccups. Last week's win over the Carolina Panthers set the tone for that as the Bucs are vying to hang their third consecutive NFC South banner.

"It's just a mentality to not be denied -- to be persistent in it and just to go after your goal," Mayfield said. "I just see nobody flinching. Nobody's wide-eyed. Everybody seems really calm, just ready for the next play."

Bowles also told his team he thought it would come down to the final two minutes, which is how they ended up on the losing side in Week 7 against the Falcons in Tampa after kicker Younghoe Koo nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Bucs 16-13.

"We came back this game," Bowles said. "... I can't say enough about these guys fighting, the competitiveness they had coming in here. It was a huge win. It's going to be like that every week for the next four weeks."