Breakdown Of The Near Hail Mary (And A Defense Of Chris Godwin)

October 28th, 2023

Former NFL receiver explains.

Joe wrote it in the wee hours on Friday. If the Bucs miss out on a playoff berth by one game, that almost-completed Hail Mary that would have won the game for Tampa Bay will haunt Joe for years.

The replays and photos shows receiver Chris Godwin had only turned to face the line of scrimmage maybe a second sooner, he had an excellent shot of catching that heave.

Unfortunately, Godwin turned too late as the ball was almost on top of him when he did.

Now Joe knows some reasons why, courtesy of former NFL receiver Donte Stallworth, who took to Twitter to defend Godwin. Stallworth explained that play was a basic Hail Mary. Godwin was sort of acting as a power forward ready to bring down a rebound so he had to keep his eyes down, not up in the sky watching the ball.

The key playery, per Stallworth, was tight end Cade Otton in front of Godwin. Stallworth believes it was Otton’s responsibility to tip the pass up, volleyball it, so Godwin or Mike Evans could bring it down.

Of course, Otton got clobbered and sandwiched by a pair of Buffalo defenders and was taken out of the play.

“A lot people who are criticizing Chris Godwin on last night’s last-second Hail Mary first need to understand the design of the play,” Stallworth typed. “You have a jumper (Otton), a front rebounder (Godwin) and a back rebounder (Evans).

“Godwin’s job on this play is *not to look back for the ball, but to be in position while facing the jumper to catch a tipped ball. as Godwin is fighting for position in front of Otton awaiting the “front rebound” Otton is being boxed out by two defenders.

Well, obviously the play didn’t develop like the Bucs thought and Stallworth admitted that.

While Joe gets what Stallworth is saying, if Godwin’s job was to face “the jumper,” which was Otton, then why wait so long to turn back?

Joe is not ragging on Godwin. If the Bucs played just halfway decently on offense before the fourth quarter, the game would not have come down to a Hail Mary prayer.

Joe has a gnawing feeling the failure to execute that play will haunt the Bucs and could have a trickle effect.

33 Responses to “Breakdown Of The Near Hail Mary (And A Defense Of Chris Godwin)”

  1. Jeff Says:

    On a scale of 0-100 Chris is a rock solid 85. He’s a great possession receiver. Asking any more than that from him just sets the team up for failure.

  2. PSL Bob Says:

    You don’t think he’s lost sleep thinking about “what if”?

  3. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Executing a volleyball play on a Hail Mary- nice try but not buying it- ultimately another lost opportunity-
    story of Bucs season so far

  4. JD Still Says:

    I have also seen a variation of the play where Otton and Godwin would have been used to draw defenders away and blocking them from the ball leaving Evans one on one for a jump ball with the defender, but the ball was under thrown and never reached Evans, I tend to believe this was what they were trying to do because the ball was never touched ! It could have worked but no one foresaw all the Bucs players getting mugged and the refs all suffering temporary blindness and missing multiple pass interference calls.

  5. Mike C Says:

    Ball was under thrown JD?…..

  6. Ultra ClodHopper Says:

    Yesterday I didn’t think the flag was necessary. Today I changed my mind. If Otton is basically the “target” and they treated him like he was a DE getting double teamed that’s flag worthy. Hail Marys are bumpy, I get that. This was more than that.

  7. Lt. Dan Says:

    @ JD, that ball was perfectly thrown…plenty of hangtime and distance. Hail Mary type plays are probably less than 50-50…80-20 is most likely the odds.

  8. Tony Marks Says:

    Michael Irving says the oppositie – on undisputed he claimed it was Godwin who was to tip it to Evans

    Still all that is theory – With the wild west that goes on with those passes and all defenders back on a Hail Mary no one can have any exclusive responsibilities because the ball can go anywhere.
    Something to criticize Godwin for? Nope. Hail Mary’s are too much the wild west to blame anyone

    but it was one wail of a throw by Baker

  9. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Suspending NFL pass interference rules on a hail mary is horsecrap. Yeah it shouldn’t have come down to that but its still crap.

  10. Fred McNeil Says:

    That sounds like a bunch of baloney to me. This ain’t an effin’ basketball game. They call it a hail Mary because it’s just a prayer that you
    try to toss up to heaven and hope an angel guides it into a receiver’s mitts. (Or a flag) There’s not a whole helluva lot of thinking or strategy.
    That said, it was certainly a colossal attempt. I nearly pooped my pants. For a split second I thought we had it. Disappointing? Yes. Entertaining…especially as that was for a win, not a tie…absolutely! Hell, the Falcons game was entertaining too for all the same reasons. Sporadic, but heroic defense. Putrid offense.

  11. Mike S Says:

    Stop beating this dead horse. Its not going to save Mayfield.

  12. JD Still Says:

    Mike , Lt Dan: Going on where Mike Evans was located ,( toward the back corner of the end zone )and where Otton and Godwin were located trying to draw off defenders ( toward the front of the end zone ) I believe the play was set up to be thrown deeper to Evans deep in the corner for the jump ball but the ball never reached him and just fell to the ground with nobody touching it ,very unusual for a Hail Mary pass, I can’t remember ever seeing a Hail Mary ball never even being touched by any offensive or defensive player!

  13. Beej Says:

    They beat up Otton and took his lunch money, would have been P.I. any situation but that

  14. Joe Says:

    They beat up Otton and took his lunch money, would have been P.I. any situation but that

    Like Joe has mentioned a few times the past few days, when does the NFL fully throw the rule book out the window but for that play?

  15. ModHairKen Says:

    Godwin is not to blame. They should not have needed to be in that situation.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Our last drive took way too much time off the clock…..if anything, that is what cost us the game.

  17. Studentofthegame Says:

    Mike S, the Bucs have a lot of problems on offense and Mayfield ain’t one of them. Grow up Trask homer.

  18. Fred McNeil Says:

    I agree that drawing a flag on a hail Mary is a cheap and disappointing way to end a game, but actively mugging somebody way before the ball arrives isn’t quite fair either. If I remember correctly hair-splitting calls used to be a bit of a problem in years past. I suppose if the refs call it the same way in every game it’s sorta fair, but it should be revisited by the competition committee to stop blatant thuggery. As I rethink my words…maybe we should leave well enough alone. I sure don’t want Vegas goons deciding the outcome of a close game quite so easily.

  19. Fred McNeil Says:

    Guys, Baker really isn’t quite the Bucs’ biggest problem on offense. He’s not quite the answer either.

  20. Bucsfan951 Says:


    I couldn’t disagree more with you on your opinion. Godwin is pretty darn good at blocking, too. He is a pretty solid player, overall. A solid 90 imo.

    But everyone is entitled to their opinions 😉

  21. D Cone Says:

    Why would an incomplete pass traveling 60 yards haunt anyone? With a 10% chance of succeeding.

    There are plenty of passes in the Red Zone, inside the 10 even that could have flipped the script. Passes thrown to the other team too. On that play Mayfield only missed a receiver by an arms reach. That’s better than some that have missed by yards.

    Had it not been for an offside penalty the play before the ball might not have even made to the end zone.

    In addition to PI another penalty you don’t see is Offensive Holding. If the Refs called it both ways more Hail Mary’s would end with that one.

    Had the Buc Receivers been mugged going down the field Illegal Contact or Defensive Holding would get called and they would have gotten one more shot at it. At the goal line forget in.

    Let that play go. Based on what I have seen so far there will be plenty more things to have nightmares about this season.

  22. David Says:

    Are you going to write any article on Baker’s role in these four losses or you are more interested to know why Chis g. has less skill in playing basketball than football catching jump balls.

  23. David Says:


  24. Since76 Says:

    The bad play at QB will haunt me for years to come. One desperation pass I will forget. It’s the why we were in desperation that haunts me. A bucs life.

  25. unbelievable Says:

    There were at minimum 3 different Bills defenders committing some form of holding / illegal contact / pass interference.

    Just because it’s a Hail Mary doesn’t mean the rules of football no longer apply. If we had had a false start or an ineligible receiver downfield, you bet your sweet arse the refs would have called it…

  26. Rod Munch Says:

    Watching it live, to me, it looked like the Bills player spun Godwin around. But this makes sense, much more sense than the dummies who were just saying Godwin suddenly decided that would be the play he’d take off and be lazy.

  27. Rod Munch Says:

    unbelievable – You’re correct, but that stuff is never called, it just isn’t. We knew that before the play, just like the Bucs players knew. But, not to worry, I’m sure at some point in the not to distant future, if the Bowles Bucs actually have a lead at the end of a game and they’re defending this play, that’s when the refs will choose to throw a flag. Just wait and see.

  28. unbelievable Says:

    @Rod – 100%

  29. Crickett Baker Says:

    What really bugs me, is if Baker can throw a 60-yard pass accurately into the end zone, why did we wait ’til the last second to throw one??? Oh wait..Bowles.

  30. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Jeff Says
    “On a scale of 0-100 Chris is a rock solid 85. He’s a great possession receiver.”

    Mike Evans is a possession receiver. Godwin usually gets yards after catch.

    Just look at him during the Brady years. The problem is where the passes are being placed and the timing.

  31. Rod Munch Says:

    Crickett Baker Says:
    October 28th, 2023 at 4:14 pm
    What really bugs me, is if Baker can throw a 60-yard pass accurately into the end zone, why did we wait ’til the last second to throw one??? Oh wait..Bowles.


    Yeah, but what if something goes wrong? Better to punt on 3rd down than risk something going wrong.

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai Says:
    October 28th, 2023 at 6:40 pm
    Jeff Says
    “On a scale of 0-100 Chris is a rock solid 85. He’s a great possession receiver.”

    Mike Evans is a possession receiver.


    Evans literally lead the league in yards per catch in the past and is considered one of the best deep ball WR’s in the NFL. He’s the opposite of a possession receiver. I know what you’re saying, that he doesn’t get yards after the catch (which actually isn’t true this year), but lack of YAC doesn’t make you a possession receiver.

    Godwin very much has become a position receiver once Arians arrived and made him more of a slot receiver. Godwin is the one averaging 10-yards per catch, and gets by on volume.

    I don’t know why anyone would think either definition is a knock, in this offense you need someone to play that slot role, and Godwin is great at it. Also Godwin proved in Dirk’s offense that he can also play outside.

  33. Kidfloflo Says:

    As a Buc coach I would now teach to body check, shove, trip and toss anybody around u on a hail Mary, since there will be no flags and it’s a free for all on that play, do what ever it takes to free yourself up!