Rookies Howard, Godwin, Evans lead way for winning Buccaneers
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 20 November 2017

Gerald McCoy says age is irrelevant in the NFL. It certainly was during the Bucs 30-20 victory over the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. The Bucs won for second time in two weeks thanks in large part to the paly of the oldest player on their team, 34-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and three of the youngest.

While Fitzpatrick displayed the veterans savvy – as well as some youthful mobility – the Bucs expected of him, it was rookies O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin and Justin Evans who made some of the biggest plays. Howard, caught three passes for 52 yards and a touchdown and had another touchdown called back because of a penalty to help the Bucs build a 20-7 halftime lead.

Godwin, meanwhile, made two clutch catches during the final game-winning scoring drive and Evans got it all started for the Bucs with a pick of Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler in the first quarter. “O.J. could have had a monster game today,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said of the former Alabama tight end the Bucs selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

“He got off to a fast start and he then he got that (touchdown off the) screen pass called back and he had that drop on that little play action play so he could have had monster day. He was like the fourth option on that touchdown he caught, but it just seems like if we get O.J. involved early it seems like good things start to happen for him.

Good things happened late for Godwin, who wasn’t targeted in the game until late in the fourth quarter, but came up big when he made two key catches to put the Bucs in field-goal range. Godwin’s first catch was a 14-yard reception that moved the Bucs to near midfield just before the 2-minute warning. His second was a 24-yard reception from the Miami 44 that moved the Bucs safely into field-goal range.

“For Chris, that was very clutch at the end there,’’ Koetter said. “Fitz made a couple of plays, but still, Chris had (a) guy hanging on him on both of those plays. I mean, he’s really impressed me the last two weeks with his competitiveness. He’s been playing special teams and doing a lot of dirty work. And then Justin Evans got us started with that pick, so yeah, it was a big day for our rookies. They all did a good job.’’