John Romano: After a week of uncomfortable conversations, Chris Godwin rescues Bucs

John Romano, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Football

ATLANTA — This was not his day. Not his week, not his season.

By the final minutes of Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the ball had been thrown his way 10 times and Chris Godwin had 23 yards to show for it.

The Super Bowl ring, the Pro Bowl appearance, the hefty salary? They were starting to seem like teases of the glory that had once followed him on fields across the NFL.

Here, in 2023, Godwin was still trying to find a rhythm with a new quarterback and common ground with a new offensive coordinator. That struggle was never more apparent than a few days ago when his wife took to social media to defend what she felt were unfair, and untrue, insinuations about his performance against Carolina.

There’s your setup. That’s your backstory. And here’s your plot twist:

Chris Godwin just saved the season.


Not by himself, of course. And, with games still to come against Green Bay and Jacksonville, maybe not for long. But Godwin’s 32-yard reception on third and 10 in the final minute against the Falcons on Sunday set up Baker Mayfield’s game-winning pass to Cade Otton and a 29-25 comeback victory that put the Bucs in first place in the NFC South based on tiebreakers and gave them hope in the season’s final month.

“Can’t say enough about him and the job he did (Sunday),” Mayfield said. “That’s a clutch moment.”

Clutch moments were once Godwin’s specialty. He didn’t catch as many touchdown passes as Mike Evans and didn’t stretch the field as much as Rob Gronkowski, but few players were as trustworthy as Godwin on third down. He delivered in traffic. He withstood jarring hits. He was the prototype of dependability.

And as the Bucs transitioned to a new offensive system this season that took Godwin away from his preferred role as a slot receiver, those moments seemed to gradually fade away. His numbers suffered and his impact lessened.


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