NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (2024)

It’s June, and while the Bucs are wrapping up OTAs and gearing up for mandatory mini-camp next week, no one would blame you if you’re itching for some real football. But we’re still months away from the start of the 2024 regular season, so in some ways, looking back on some of the action from the 2023 season is all we have right now.

Tampa Bay surprised a whole lot of people in 2023, transitioning from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield and managing to improve its win total by a game, complete a three-peat as NFC South champions and win a playoff game after a one-and-done appearance in 2022.

After a 4-7 start, the Bucs did need a four-game winning streak and a five-wins-in-six-games run to close the season and extend their streak of playoff appearances to four. But between their Week 1 win over the Vikings to their season-ending loss to the Lions in the NFC Divisional Round, there were plenty of highlights from the season they put together.

The NFL’s official account on X (formerly Twitter), recently compiled those highlights into a Top 10 plays list, and while we wait for real football to return in a couple of months, let’s take a look at this list.

The @Buccaneers were heating up in 2023 under QB1 @bakermayfield 🔥

What will 2024 have in store? 👀 pic.twitter.com/yD4ZsCDC6d

— NFL (@NFL) June 6, 2024

10. Baker Mayfield To David Moore Closes Out Bucs’ Win Over Packers

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (1)

Bucs WR David Moore – Photo by: USA Today

The Bucs offense came alive at the right time as the team won its first four games in December. The third of those wins came against the Packers, and it featured Tampa Bay’s best offensive performance of the season. With 34 points, 452 yards and a 7-of-11 mark on third downs, the Bucs offense finally got rolling after weeks of inconsistency.

Baker Mayfield became the first visiting quarterback — and only the second quarterback ever — to post a perfect 158.3 passer rating at Lambeau Field. He was 22-of-28 for 381 yards and four touchdowns, with the fourth being a 52-yarder to the seldom-used David Moore. That score made it 34-20 with 6:30 to go, and the Bucs closed it out from there.

SHEESH! A 52 yd TD for David Moore! 😮

📺: #TBvsGB on CBS
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/kw7mays4qU pic.twitter.com/HHjcnKui3c

— NFL (@NFL) December 17, 2023

9. Antoine Winfield Jr. Chases Down Desmond Ridder

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (2)

Bucs S Antoine Winfield Jr. and Falcons QB Desmond Ridder – Photo by: USA Today

Over the course of his All-Pro, bag-securing 2023 season, Antoine Winfield Jr. made big play after big play. They didn’t always have to lead to wins in order for everyone to appreciate how incredible they were, too, as was the case with this touchdown-saving forced fumble at home against the Falcons.

With the Bucs already trailing 13-10 in the fourth quarter, the Falcons drove 92 yards in 6:07 and looked to be headed for a 20-10 lead when Desmond Ridder scrambled left and headed for the pylon. Only there was Winfield, streaking across the field to punch the ball loose and knock it into the end zone for a touchback.

Tampa Bay went on to tie the game only to lose it, but this was truly an outstanding play. It showing up this low on the list feels wrong, and no one would’ve blamed you if you thought we wouldn’t see another play like this any time soon. Well…

Gene Deckerhoff calls a huge fumble forced by Antoine Winfield Jr to deny Desmond Ridder at the goal line pic.twitter.com/DfEOJQ22VF

— Bucs Rays Bolts (@BucsRaysBoltsYT) October 22, 2023

8. Antoine Winfield Jr. Chases Down DJ Chark

Antoine Winfield Jr. did it again in Week 18, and it may very well have saved the Bucs’ season as well as Todd Bowles’ job. Tampa Bay’s offense didn’t exactly show up for the season finale against 2-14 Carolina, and the Panthers nearly got the jump on the Bucs early because of it. Bryce Young connected with DJ Chark for what looked like a 43-yard touchdown early in the second quarter during a scoreless game.

But again, there was Winfield refusing to give up on the play. Like he did on the play against Ridder and the Falcons, he got to the ball carrier just in time, knocking the ball loose and into the end zone, where it was recovered by Jamel Dean. That kept the game scoreless and even though the Bucs only managed three field goals on the day, that play helped make sure they still won the game — and it secured the Tampa Bay defense its first shutout since November of 2010.

Again, this play could be way higher on this list. But with his new contract, Winfield may not mind.

Are you kidding me, @AntoineWJr11?! 🤯

📺: #TBvsCAR on FOX pic.twitter.com/fx6HjjRaku

— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 7, 2024

7. Bucs Beat Falcons On Cade Otton’s Game-Winner

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (3)

Bucs TE Cade Otton – Photo by: USA Today

While the Bucs didn’t win their third straight NFC South title until Week 18, the turning point in the division race may have been their early-December, come-from-behind 29-25 win over the Falcons in Atlanta. Tampa Bay once again didn’t have its best, but Baker Mayfield showed off the clutch factor in the game’s waning moments.

Mayfield may have only been 14-of-29 on the day, but he led the offense on a 12-play, 75-yard drive in 2:52 with the game on the line. After a big 32-yard pass to Chris Godwin on a late third-and-10, Mayfield found Cade Otton for an 11-yard touchdown with 31 seconds to go. It was another clutch moment for Otton — something he’s become known for in his first two NFL seasons — and it put the Bucs in the driver’s seat in the division race.

CADE OTTON 🤯

📺: #TBvsATL on CBS pic.twitter.com/8MOW0tazGC

— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 10, 2023

6. Mike Evans: YAC Machine?

As legendary as his career has been — he’s a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, after all — Mike Evans has never really been known as an elite yards-after-catch receiver. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t flashed an ability to create after the catch. That’s what he did in the Bucs’ Week 2 win over the Bears, and his big play came at a crucial time as Tampa Bay trailed 7-3 after a slow start on offense.

Baker Mayfield found Evans — who arguably got away with some offensive pass interference — and Evans did the rest, going 70 yards before getting tracked down at the 7-yard line. Three plays later, Tampa Bay punched it in for the lead and never trailed again. Evans was disappointed that he couldn’t finish the play in the end zone, but his YAC ability sparked what was eventually a second straight win to start the season for Tampa Bay.

70 yards for Mike Evans!

📺: #CHIvsTB on FOX⁰📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/FhXtx7w3wW pic.twitter.com/RmhL8IWAmW

— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023

5. Mike Evans: YAC Machine + Redemption

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (4)

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

What was that about Mike Evans not being known for his YAC ability? Later on in the season, he showed off some more skill after the catch and this time, he got some redemption as he dove and just did enough to clear the goal line for a touchdown. The referee initially ruled him out of bounds, but replay showed that Evans’ desperation dive was enough.

This particular play, of course, came in Week 13 against the Panthers. It was a big seven-catch, 162-yard day for Evans, with the big play being this 75-yard touchdown that gave the Bucs a lead late in the third quarter. Evans caught the ball over the middle shy of the 50 and his legs did the rest as he raced for the longest catch of his career, surpassing a 72-yarder he had against the Bengals in October of 2018.

Mike Evans goes 75 yards to get the lead back!

📺: #CARvsTB on CBS
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/xvCjbLUIcN pic.twitter.com/3aOjMTBQzj

— NFL (@NFL) December 3, 2023

4. Mike Evans Comes Up With A One-Handed Beauty

This section of the NFL’s top Bucs plays list clearly belonged to Mike Evans, as he earned No. 6, No. 5 and No. 4. This one came late in what was an ugly Week 3 loss to the Eagles on Monday Night Football. There wasn’t much to like about this game, but that didn’t stop the all-time Bucs great from coming up with a highlight-reel catch in the second half.

Evans went over the middle again on this play and brought in a high Baker Mayfield throw with just one hand, reeling the ball in and holding onto it even as he went for a bit of a ride on the shoulder of Eagles safety Reed Blankenship. That catch came on a drive that ended with an Evans touchdown — Tampa Bay’s lone touchdown of the game and the receiver’s third in the first three games of the season.

OH MY, MIKE EVANS

📺: #PHIvsTB on ABC
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/NkpBC1YFYJ pic.twitter.com/SW3KYRa11s

— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2023

3. Shaq Barrett’s Emotional Pick-Six Caps Bucs’ Win Over Bears

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (5)

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: USA Today

Even if it felt like the Bucs were in control during the second half of their Week 2 win over the Bears, things got dangerously close when Chicago got within 20-17 with 6:17 left and then got the ball back with more than two minutes to go. But Shaq Barrett erased any doubt, making a perfect read on a Justin Fields screen pass, dropping back and intercepting it before being pushed into the end zone by his teammates for a game-clinching pick-six.

The play itself was masterful in that Barrett read it so well and had it covered perfectly. It also sealed the game and a 2-0 start for the Bucs. But the meaning behind it was so much more significant. Barrett was not only back from the season-ending Achilles injury he suffered in 2022 but was also recovering from the tragic loss of his two-year-old daughter, Arrayah.

His pick-six was a special moment that dedicated to her, and seeing his Bucs teammates push him into the end zone and celebrate with him was one of the feel-good moments of the year in Tampa.

Shaq Barrett pick-six! Huge play for the @Buccaneers

📺: #CHIvsTB on FOX⁰📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/FhXtx7w3wW pic.twitter.com/06xXbLoBGl

— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023

2. Trey Palmer Electrifies Ray Jay In Bucs’ Playoff Win

The speed of 2023 sixth-round pick Trey Palmer was always going to make him an intriguing player for Tampa Bay. He had his ups and downs as a rookie, but largely played well after being forced into the WR3 role due to Russell Gage’s season-ending injury in training camp. Palmer’s speed was on display on several occasions throughout the season, but his biggest play came on a massive stage.

In the Bucs’ 32-9 Wild Card win over the Eagles, Palmer sent Raymond James Stadium into a frenzy late in the third quarter. Tampa Bay led 16-9, having largely controlled the game without being all that comfortably ahead. But after the defense forced a safety to make it 18-9, things changed as Baker Mayfield found Palmer near the sideline and let the rookie do the rest. In the end, Palmer slipped a tackle and escaped for a 56-yard touchdown that gave the home team the separation it needed.

ONCE AGAIN, HOW Y’ALL FEELING BUCS FANS?! 😱

📺: #PHIvsTB on ESPN/ABC
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/rFlj59UzNi pic.twitter.com/VtoFNKaLZ5

— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2024

1. Chris Godwin’s Down There Somewhere

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (6)

Bucs WR Chris Godwin Photo by: USA Today

The Bucs had largely put the game away with that Trey Palmer touchdown late in the third quarter against the Eagles, but the play that topped the NFL’s list of Tampa Bay’s top highlights from 2023 was ultimately the exclamation point on that Wild Card win. Already leading 25-9 in the fourth quarter, Baker Mayfield turned pressure on a third-and-7 into a 23-yard touchdown to Chris Godwin.

Under pressure, Mayfield unloaded a throw down the field that, while under thrown, was hauled in by Godwin to make it 32-9. It was a true “F it, Chris is down there somewhere” moment from Mayfield and while it might’ve been a questionable choice to top this list, it proved to be one more electric play in a Wild Card win that highlighted the Bucs’ season.

CHRIS GODWIN IS DOWN THERE SOMEWHERE
pic.twitter.com/hJeHARXKbW

— PFF (@PFF) January 16, 2024

What was your favorite play from the 2023 season, Pewter People?

NFL Picks Bucs' Top 10 Plays Of 2023 Season (2024)
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