“Honestly, you really find out who you are in difficult moments and I’m happy to say I am who I built myself to be – as I envisioned myself in my head,” he said. “That’s a hard worker, someone who comes in and puts his head down and goes to work every day. It’s been a tough journey, but I’ve had many people assist me along the way [who] have encouraged me and are behind me. They have been patient with me [when] it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows, but I think I’m much better off this side.”
As Tampa Bay tries to clinch the division – and the playoff home game that comes with it – with a victory over Carolina on Sunday, the team will need Godwin to keep taking steps to be the man he was before the injury. And interestingly enough, in a very measurable way, he’s almost there.
Godwin closes in on Bucs history with two games left
In 2021, Godwin was on track to break the Bucs’ single-season receptions record. He had 98 when he went down with his injury in Week 15, meaning he had three and a half games left to claim the record as his own. The single-season record belongs to Keyshawn Johnson, who racked up 106 passes in 2001. So it’s almost a guarantee that with three and a half more games last year, Godwin would have had nine extra catches. But after a long, grueling rehabilitation process, Godwin may still have some hope of breaking that record in 2022, a year after suffering such a catastrophic injury.
Godwin will come into play on Sunday with 89 catches this season, meaning he needs 18 more in the last two games to break Johnson’s record. It’s a big task to be sure, but it’s not one that’s completely out of the reach of the seventh-year recipient. He’s only averaged 6.8 receptions per game in his 13 games this season, but he does have 12 catches to his credit in the last month or so. He also brought in eight passes in three of his last four games.
Godwin’s involvement in the attack has grown over the year, so an average of nine catches in the last two weeks – against the Panthers and Falcons – is not out of the question. And with another 10 catches, he will surpass his mark of 98 from last year, the second highest in franchise history.
Godwin, of course, prefers wins to records, as he said on Wednesday.
“I think it’s really gratifying. I try not to focus too much on stats – I really try to see everything as my impact on the team and I try to look at the game as a whole and see if I’ve had a positive impact or not,” he said. “If I didn’t, how can I get better? But I think I can just be as consistent as possible, is something I can try to hang on. I want to be a reliable man for my team so that when the ball is thrown my way, they expect the actions to be made.
Getting more separation is the one big thing Godwin needs to do if he wants to fully return to his pre-injury self. But as he starts to get closer to his form for 2021, can the Bucs attack do the same? The team has reached 30 points just once this season (a 41-31 loss to the Chiefs in Week 4) after posting over 30 points 12 times in 2021 and another 12 times in 2020. Still, Godwin said he believes a 30-point performance may be just around the corner for Tampa Bay.
“I think it still is, I really do,” he said. “I really feel like it could be anytime it clicks for us and whatever that missing piece is… I think it’s there. It’s not just going to happen, is it? We have to make it happen, we have to get out there and work together.”
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