Mike Evans returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense in Week Four and made an immediate impact, starting with his 30-yard catch early in the second quarter of Sunday night's 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Evans caught the ball over the middle but was eventually dropped at the Chiefs' 34 on a hard hit by safety Justin Reid.
"Yes, it got me like right under the chin, it was a good hit," said Evans after the game. "I should have run a better route – I probably could have had another touchdown there, but it's football."
Call it a 'welcome back' moment after Evans was forced to miss the Buccaneers' Week Three game due to an NFL suspension drawn from his part in an on-field fracas with the Saints in New Orleans the prior weekend. If anything, it lit a fire, because Evans was instantly and unsurprisingly the team's most effective offensive weapon. The Bucs had 376 yards of offense in the loss, almost all of it through the air, and Evans led the way with eight grabs for 103 yards and a touchdown. That score came just a few plays after his first big catch, as he snared a 13-yarder in traffic at the back of the end zone to make it a 21-10 game.
Evans' first catch of the game had franchise signifance. Early in the second quarter, Tom Brady went to him deep over the middle and the veteran receiver hauled it in for a 30-yard reception. That gain gave him the franchise's all-time lead in yards from scrimmage, adding to his impressive ledger of records during his nine years with the Buccaneers.
"It's a huge blessing," said Evans. "Honestly, I didn't even know I was even close to that, but it is a huge blessing, and we'll just keep on tacking onto it."
Evans now has 9,546 yards from scrimmage, breaking the record set by former running back James Wilder (9,449) that had stood for more than two decades. This latest standard makes it clear: Mike Evans is the most accomplished offensive player in the Buccaneers' 46-season franchise history. His new standard adds to his previous team records for overall touchdowns, receiving touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards.
Evans is also looking to extend his NFL record of eight straight seasons to start a career with at least 1,000 receiving yards. After his Week Three suspension, a 100-yard outing is a good start. Also potentially helping matters is the fact that Chris Godwin and Julio Jones returned to action on Sunday night, as well. Tampa Bay's passing attack had its first big night of the season, with 373 net yards, and there are likely to be more prolific outings ahead.
"It is great to see all your guys healthy," said Evans. "I love my receivers, it is good to see them out there. We all go into battle with each other. I wish we could have gotten the [win] today, we fell short. We'll rest up, recover, watch the film, make the corrections and come back even stronger."