Baker Mayfield, Bucs pummel Jaguars to keep division title dreams alive


Baker Mayfield threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns to help the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Trevor Lawrence and the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars 30-12 for their fourth straight victory on Sunday.

The Jaguars (8-7) lost their fourth game in a row, this time with Lawrence starting but struggling to find a rhythm after spending the past week in the NFL’s concussion protocol. The third-year quarterback threw a second-half TD pass to Calvin Ridley before spending the fourth quarter on the bench with what the Jaguars announced was a shoulder injury.

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A week after having a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in a road win at Green Bay, Mayfield threw a pair of TDs to Mike Evans in building a 20-0 halftime lead. In both cases, the Bucs cashed in on interceptions Lawrence tossed on two of Jacksonville’s first three possessions.

Evans finished with seven receptions for 86 yards. The touchdown catches were his 12th and 13th of the season, and the 10th-year pro joined Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (8), Terrell Owens (7), Marvin Harrison (6) and Randy Moss (6) as the only players in NFL history to have at least 12 TD receptions in five different seasons.

The victory, combined with New Orleans’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday night, left the first-place Bucs (8-7) alone atop the NFC South with two weeks left in the regular season. The Saints (7-8) visit Raymond James Stadium next Sunday.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White (1) celebrates a 2-yard touchdown run with teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.  (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Despite losing four straight, the Jaguars remain tied for first place in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, who also lost on Sunday.

Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr. had the interceptions that led to Mayfield’s scoring passes to Evans. Rookie Yaya Diaby sacked Lawrence early in the third quarter, forcing a third turnover by the quarterback to set up Rachaad White’s 2-yard TD run that put the Bucs up 27-0.

The Jaguars believe Lawrence, who has not missed a game in his three-year career, sustained a head injury while scrambling up the middle on the team’s final drive during the previous week’s 23-7 loss to Baltimore.

The No. 1 overall pick from the 2021 draft practiced for the first time all week on Friday. He was cleared to play by team doctors and the league’s independent neurological consultant before traveling with the team to Tampa on Saturday.

Lawrence finished 17 of 29 passing for 211 yards, including a 18-yard TD throw to Ridley late in the third quarter. In addition to three turnovers, he was sacked three times.

Backup C.J. Beathard played the fourth quarter and had a 1-yard TD pass to Ridley in the closing minutes.

TOTAL DOMINATION

The Bucs scored on their first four possessions (two TDs, two field goals), held the ball for more 18 minutes and outgained the Jaguars 224 yards to 84 while building their 20-0 halftime lead.

INJURIES

Jaguars: Played without two of their top three receivers, Christian Kirk (groin) and Zay Jones (hamstring/knee). … Lawrence (shoulder), RT Anton Harrison (back) and S Daniel Thomas (forearm) left the game in the second half.

Buccaneers: LB Devin White (foot) returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games. … CB Carlton Davis (concussion) left the game early in the second quarter and did not return. … Winfield left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.

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UP NEXT

Jaguars: Return home to try to break their skid against the Carolina Panthers, who have the worst record in the NFL.

Buccaneers: Will try to move closer to a third consecutive NFC South title, hosting the division rival Saints.



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