It all started last week when Gardner-Johnson was talking about having to deal with a tough pair of Los Angeles Rams receivers in Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp. Gardner-Johnson said he believed the Buccaneers may have a better group of receivers... if one thing was different.
“If you give that Tampa group a good quarterback, that’s a great group,” Gardner-Johnson said. “(Mike) Evans, (Chris) Godwin, (Russell) Gage, that’s a great group. I played against them for real.”
Those comments went through the media cycle early this week after the Lions/Buccaneers matchup was set for the Divisional Round. So, naturally, Mayfield was asked about it on Wednesday. He took the opportunity to take a shot back at Gardner-Johnson.
“I don’t think he’s really watched film because he mentioned Russell Gage,” Mayfield said. “You know we love Russell, but he hasn’t played a snap all year for us. He must be going off the preseason stuff the media was talking about.”
Gage suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.
Of course, Gardner-Johnson wasn’t going to back down. Shortly after Mayfield’s comments went public, the Lions safety responded on Twitter (that has since been deleted)
Gardner-Johnson is referencing a 2021 game when he was with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints beat the Buccaneers 9-0, and he picked off Tom Brady late in the game, eventually leading to Brady throwing and destroying a tablet. Of course, Gardner-Johnson got his shot in on Brady back then, too.
The last time the Lions and Buccaneers faced off back in Week 6, the Lions held Mayfield to his worst passer rating of the season (56.8). However, Gardner-Johnson did not play in that game, and the Bucs offense has gotten consistently better.