Evans Leads Buccaneers in Much-Needed Win

Ken Cross

December 05, 2023 at 3:01 pm.

TAMPA. Fla. – Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who is in his tenth NFL season, feels underrated sometimes as he never seems to gets as much attention and acknowledgment as his career has earned.

Evans once again eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in a season in the Buccaneers’ 21-18 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. His seven catches for 162 yards allowed him to continue his record of 1,000 receiving yards for the tenth year.

He trails former NFL great Jerry Rice, who notched 14 1,000-yard seasons and he pulled even with Randy Moss for second in NFL history.

“I’m happy we got the win, most important,” said Evans. “I’m happy with the record, obviously. I had a lot of great quarterbacks and offensive coordinators who believed in me, so I appreciate them. Hopefully, I can keep that streak going, however long my career goes.”

Evans’ out-pattern late in the second quarter pushed him over 1,000 receiving yards. This came after a 40-yard reception set up Rachaad White’s one-yard run and gave the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead earlier in the quarter.

The former Texas A&M wide receiver said that the team knew he had passed 1,000 yards on his 11-yard reception.

“Everybody was talking about it on the sideline,” said Evans. “Nowadays, you see the stats everywhere, so yeah, we knew.”

The Bucs needed Evans to resurrect their confidence and ability to win and stay in range of the top of the NFC South after the Falcons defeated the Jets, 13-8, earlier in the day.

Carolina running back Chuba Hubbard had capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a touchdown to give the struggling Panthers a 10-7 advantage with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.

On the first play of the next series, Evans caught a 75-yard touchdown pass off the hand of quarterback Baker Mayfield which allowed the Buccaneers to immediately regain the lead at 14-10.

“Baker threw an unbelievable ball,” commented Evans. “It’s a play we have worked on in practice a lot. I had my steps right; I wasn’t short on the route, and it worked. Hit me in stride and I was able to beat the defense to the end zone.”

Evans cut in front of Panthers cornerback Troy Hill to make the play. Mayfield delivered the ball to him on about the Buccaneers 45-yard line and he turned it into a foot race on the next 55 yards.

“You know he’s getting the ball and everybody is trying to stop him,” said Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles. “He makes plays over and over. It’s a credit to him, his work ethic, the way he approaches the game – unbelievable.”

Evans dove for the end zone at about the two-yard line. He kept the ball in bounds and reached it over the goal line to secure the score.

“That was a huge play for us,” noted wide receiver Chris Godwin. “We were sludging through there and couldn’t get anything going. That play sparked us and it was huge.”

Gaining the 55 yards after the catch personified Evans picking up that skill and he has become as big of a problem with turning yards after the catch into a deep gain.

Bowles explained that Evans was not the primary target as the play unfolded. 

“By the way they rolled the safety into the middle of the field, he ran the route exactly how we talked about,” explained Bowles. “He had outside leverage on a nickel, stuck his foot into the ground, broke in, and knowing the timing of the coverage, he made the rest happen.”

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