“It sucks,” said Mayfield. “I feel like my heart just got ripped out.”
The Buccaneers were unable to mount a late comeback against the Lions, and Mayfield threw two interceptions in the game, including one on the team’s final possession of the game to seal the win for Detroit.
Still, the former No. 1 overall pick had a solid game, throwing three touchdown passes and completing 26 of his 41 pass attempts for 349 yards in the game. Mayfield also added two carries for 15 yards.
Tampa Bay won the NFC South in the regular season, earning the No. 4 seed in the conference entering the playoffs.
The Buccaneers were not expected to be one of the better teams in the NFC, especially after Tom Brady retired this past offseason, leaving Mayfield and Kyle Trask as the Bucs’ top options at quarterback.
Mayfield ended up showing why he was the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, throwing for 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in 17 games during the regular season.
In the first round of the playoffs, Mayfield and the Bucs took down the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, blowing them out 32-9. Mayfield threw for 337 yards and three scores in that game.
There’s no doubt that the playoff loss hit Mayfield hard, as the Lions will now get a chance to compete for a berth in the Super Bowl next week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Another reason why the loss could be tough for the Bucs star is the fact that the team is going to have a hard time staying together this coming offseason.
Mayfield is one of several free agents for the Bucs, including wide receiver Mike Evans, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., linebackers Devin White, Lavonte David, Cam Gill and several other players.
While the team may be able to bring some players back, there’s no guarantee that the Bucs will be able to run it back with the same group in the 2024 season.
Mayfield’s future is a little up in the air, but it’s hard to see the Buccaneers letting him walk in free agency after how well he played for the Bucs this season.