1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs’ O.J. Howard beams over postseason crowd at Rays game

The tight end drew attention after catching a foul ball, but he got caught up in the frenzied atmosphere
Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) runs a route in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday. [BUTCH DILL | AP]
Published Oct. 9
Updated Oct. 9

TAMPA — The viral buzz over O.J. Howard’s catch of a foul ball at Tuesday’s Rays-Astros playoff game continued to reverberate on Wednesday.

Howard, however, was equally enthused about the Game 4 atmosphere at Tropicana Field.

He got a taste of what Tampa Bay fans would bring to the Bucs if they ever reached the post-season.

“I mean, that’s what we need,’’ Howard said. “I was telling the guys on the team. It wasn’t about the catch, it was about like 30,000 or whatever and it was awesome. I mean, everybody screaming, yelling. We got (Justin) Verlander pitching, we got him off the mound quick.

“You know what your fans and what the city can do when you’re bringing the energy of the playoffs. Hopefully we get a chance to keep playing strong and get that enthusiasm in our stadium.”

The world of the Rays and Bucs collided during the divisional series. Howard, a spectator sitting in right field, made a one-handed catch with his left hand of a foul ball struck by Austin Meadows in the eighth inning.

“I was just talking to my buddy and everybody said, ‘Foul ball!’’’ Howard said. “I saw the ball and I was like, 'Wow, this ball is close. I’m not catching it. My hand is going to be hurt.’ Then it got to where it look like it was going to hit me so I figured I got to do something so I just reached back and caught it. So that’s how it happened. It was a moment.’’

So far this season, the football hasn’t found Howard, who was wearing a Rays cap. He had only a 10-yard reception and was targeted only twice in the Bucs loss to New Orleans Sunday.

Howard has just 11 catches for 141 yards and no touchdowns this season. Tight end Cameron Brate has only 10 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.

“We’ve had five to eight plays scheduled to go that didn’t look good so we didn’t call them because we didn’t like what we were seeing in areas of the field they can be used,’’ coach Bruce Arians said.

“They’re not doing anything wrong. You’re trying to get the mismatches.’’

Howard played baseball as an outfielder in high school in Alabama. He said the grab was his best of a baseball in his career.

“Oh yeah, by far,’’ Howard said. “I would probably say that beat the state championship in high school right there. At the moment, it was in the playoffs. Big game, big catch. Everybody saw it, so yeah.

“Shoot, I was in right field right there so it was the same type of play,’’ Howard said. “I tucked it in a little bit and brought it in like a football. Things on the field translate to everyday life.’’

Howard has received scores of reaction on Twitter, including one from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Arians said he was only concerned with the well-being of Howard’s hand when he was watching the Rays game on TV.

“It was like, ‘Okay. Just checking his fingers.’ Everything was okay,’’ Arians said.


  1. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looks on from the sideline during the second half of a loss to the Broncos, during which he is benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill. DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    His status for an Oct. 27 game against the Bucs isn’t clear after he is benched against the Broncos.
  2. Former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) gestures toward the Tampa Bay bench during the second quarter of Carolina's 37-26 victory over the Buccaneers Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    Tampa Bay was without two starters on the right side of its offensive line. Did McCoy and Co. exploit that weakness or simply win one-on-one battles?
  3. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) scores on a second quarter touchdown pass, leaving Devin White and a host of other Bucs in his wake. TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    Bucs journal: In his first game since Week 2, White gets a reminder about the mental aspects of the game
  4. The Bucs' Jameis Winston threw five interceptions and lost a fumble against Carolina Sunday. It's never good when a quarterback's turnover total is twice his jersey number. TIM IRELAND  |  Associated Press
    After suffering a 37-26 beatdown, the team should extend its stay in London, maybe indefinitely. | Thomas Bassinger
  5. Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) meet at midfield after playing in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    That’s how Bruce Arians tried to explain Winston’s six-turnover performance in London Sunday.
  6. Jameis Winston threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in the Bucs' 37-26 loss to Carolina Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
  7. An NFL football fan poses for a photo with Tampa Bay Buccaneers mascot Captain Fear outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to watch an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant) ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    First-half notes from London, where the Panthers lead Tampa Bay.
  8. Carolina Panthers cornerback Javien Elliott (23) celebrates with teammates, including former Buc Gerald McCoy, after intercepting a Jameis Winston pass in London. TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    Winston miscues, porous pass defense leaves Bucs with a lot of questions, few answers.
  9. Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett has been a popular pick as the the team's first quarter MVP. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Both players were questionable but will play today in London
  10. Murals of Carolina receiver Curtis Samuel and Bucs tight end O.J. Howard outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. EDUARDO ENCINA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the biggest reason the league can eventually make a London team a reality.