GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For years, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield idolized Green Bay Packers Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre -- even donning a pair of jean shorts to re-create Favre's iconic 1991 NFL draft day photo when Mayfield was selected first in the 2018 draft.

But on Sunday, in the Bucs' 34-20 victory over the Packers, one of Mayfield's career-best performances, he did something not even the ol' gunslinger managed to do: Post a perfect passer rating of 158.3 at Lambeau Field.

Mayfield threw for 381 passing yards and four touchdowns, becoming the second quarterback in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating at Lambeau Field, joining former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who did so against the then-Oakland Raiders in 2019.

Mayfield's performance, punctuated by a 52-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver David Moore with 6:40 to go, lifted the Bucs to a 7-7 record and their third straight win. Coupled with a loss by the Atlanta Falcons, the Bucs now have a 69% chance of reaching the playoffs, according to ESPN Analytics.

Mayfield is the third player to have at least 375 passing yards, four touchdown throws and a 158.3 rating in a road game in NFL history, joining Nick Foles (Nov. 3, 2013 at Oakland, with Philadelphia) and Ken O'Brien (Nov. 2, 1986 at Seattle, with the New York Jets).

"He's meant everything," coach Todd Bowles said of Mayfield, who last week orchestrated a game-winning touchdown drive to defeat the Falcons on the road 29-25. "From a mental standpoint to a quarterback standpoint, making plays. From a toughness standpoint. From a leadership standpoint. He's done everything. He's checked all the boxes. He's doing all the right things now and I can't say enough about him."

In two other trips to Green Bay as a member of the Cleveland Browns in 2021 and the Los Angeles Rams in 2022, Mayfield went 0-2 and threw five interceptions, completing fewer than 60% of his passes. But Sunday, he completed 78.6% of his passes and threw 16 yards shy of his personal-best 397 passing yards against the Houston Texans in 2018.

1 Related

"Third time's a charm, that's for sure," Mayfield said with a smile. "Our team was really prepared to come in here. Just liked we talked about that mentality, the playoff mentality, to come in here with one job in mind and just find a way to win, and we did that. So just couldn't be happier with this group. We will enjoy it, but then hit the reset button onto next week."

The 2023 season has been Mayfield's chance to hit the reset button on his career. He signed a one-year deal with the Bucs in March -- his third team since the Browns traded him away 17 months ago -- for $4 million with incentives that push it to $8.5 million. He has helped position them toward their third straight NFC South title and fourth consecutive trip to the postseason but their first without Tom Brady.

"He's gritty and he's a baller -- he's as fiery as they come," said wide receiver Chris Godwin, who caught 10 of 12 targets for 155 receiving yards. "And you want that. You want your guy to be out there and to compete. Like there's no flinch in him. He gets banged up. He gets hit. And he's right back in it. Like there's never any hesitation in him. We love that. We respect that in him. I'm happy for him. He came out here and found a way to ball."

It wasn't all smooth sailing. In the first quarter, Mayfield was sacked by outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare, who forced a fumble and recovered it at the Tampa Bay 9, setting up a 5-yard touchdown from Packers quarterback Jordan Love to tight end Tucker Kraft.

But Mayfield answered on the next drive by doing something few expected against one of the league's worst statistical run defenses: He starting passing the ball a lot to open the second quarter. First came a 14-yard pass on a slant pattern to wide receiver Mike Evans and a 25-yard pass on a crossing route to Godwin. Then he hit Evans on a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Evans was one of four different receiving targets who hauled in a touchdown -- the most in a Bucs game since 2021 and one shy of the franchise record of five in 2015 and 2020. The others? Running back Rachaad White, who had a 26-yard catch-and-run that with the point after made it 20-10. Then came a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ko Kieft in the flat, set up by a 22-yard pass to tight end Cade Otton over the middle.

Then came Moore, who hadn't scored an NFL touchdown since 2020, on third-and-4, to seal the victory. Kieft's touchdown was just the second of his career and his first catch of the season.

"Impeccable. It was just amazing," Moore said of Mayfield. "He didn't let anything get in the way. He didn't let anything get in his mental. He just kept putting his foot forward and kept pushing, leading our team."

Mayfield downplayed the significance of his performance, choosing instead to focus on the team and what's ahead. The Bucs next host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Christmas Eve. The Falcons' loss to the Carolina Panthers gave them some breathing room in the NFC South, but the New Orleans Saints beating the New York Giants means they are 7-7 too, and the Bucs host them Dec. 31.

"I'll be honest. December games are all important," Mayfield said. "This one was very important, but this one won't matter unless we hit the reset button and move on to next week. It can't be more special than any other. It is the most important one now, but enjoy it, and then we will move on to next week. That is the mentality we have to have as a unit."