One of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' most significant franchise records is on the verge of falling, and when it does it will be a passing of the torch by two of the best players ever to put on the team's uniform.
Mike Alstott, the Buccaneers' immensely popular fullback-slash-tailback-slash-end zone magnet, played 11 seasons in that Tampa Bay uniform (1996-2006) and in the process scored 71 touchdowns, obliterating the team's former record in that category. That ended up being a 54% jump on the previous franchise standard of 45 touchdowns, scored by James Wilder from 1981-89. It also set the bar so high that it wasn't even remotely threatened for a long time.
Wide receiver Mike Evans caught three touchdown passes in the Buccaneers' 38-3 Week Seven win over the Chicago Bears, giving him 69 scores in his career (68 receiving, one on a fumble recovery). Evans came into the 2021 season, his eighth, needing nine trips to the end zone to catch Alstott and 10 to surpass him. Now he needs just two for the tie and three for the lead.
Two of Evans' current teammates – Cameron Brate and Chris Godwin – are on the all-time top 10 list for touchdowns scored as a Buccaneer as well. Godwin caught a touchdown pass against the Bears to move him into a tie for ninth place.
Most Total Touchdowns, Buccaneers History
|Warrick Dunn||RB||1997-2001; 08||28|
Evans' three-touchdown performance on Sunday is a rare feat in team history, but a little less rare for him than anyone else. He now owns two of the five games with three or more touchdown catches in Buccaneer annals. Interestingly, his most recent three-TD game occurred exactly 45 years after the first one in franchise history.
Most Touchdown Receptions, Single Game, Buccaneers History
|Jimmie Giles||at Dolphins||10/20/85||4|
|Mike Evans||vs. Bears||10/24/21||3|
|Breshad Perriman||at Lions||12/15/19||3|
|Mike Evans||vs. Giants||9/22/19||3|
|Morris Owens||vs. Dolphins||10/24/76||3|
While chasing his own place in Buccaneers history, Evans also got to be part of an enormous NFL milestone. The first of his three TD catches, a nine-yarder in the first quarter, also happened to be the 600th regular-season touchdown pass of Tom Brady's career. Since Brady is the NFL's all-time leader in that category, having passed Drew Brees for the top spot last season, he is obviously the first man ever to the 600 plateau.
Most Touchdown Passes, NFL History
Brady's four touchdown passes against the Bears coupled with the Kansas City Chiefs' 27-3 loss to Tennessee on Sunday allowed the Buccaneer quarterback to take over the top spot on the NFL's TD pass leaderboard through seven weeks.
2021 NFL Leaders in Touchdown Passes
Brady also maintained his lead over the rest of the league's field generals in passing yards despite finishing with a season-low 211 on Sunday.
2021 NFL Leaders in Passing Yards
Brady also has the highest totals in both of those categories through the first seven games of a season in Buccaneers history.
Most Touchdown Passes, First Seven Games of a Season, Buccaneers
Most Passing Yards, First Seven Games of a Season, Buccaneers
Brady actually owns the all-time NFL record for most touchdown passes through the first seven games of a season, which he set in 2007 on his way to a career-high 50 TD tosses. His current season also makes it into the top 10 all-time, too.
Most Touchdown Passes, First Seven Games of a Season, NFL History
|Nine tied w/||20|
Sunday's game was the fourth time in seven outings this season in which Brady has thrown four or more touchdown passes. That rush of big-TD games has allowed him to catch Drew Brees at the top of the NFL's all-time leaderboard in games with four-plus touchdown passes.
Most Career Games with Four-Plus Touchdown Passes
After Sunday's lopsided decision, Brady's teams are 36-1 all-time when he throws at least four touchdown passes in a game. In contrast, the other four quarterbacks on the list above have all lost at least three games in which they hit that mark.
Brady has 61 regular-season touchdown passes since joining the Buccaneers in 2020, and 19 of those have been caught by Evans. Evans also caught a scoring pass from Blaine Gabbert at Detroit in Week 16 last season, giving him a total of 20 over the past two years. That's the second-most touchdown receptions in the NFL since the start of 2020.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2020-21
Evans' big game came on an afternoon when the Bucs' high-powered offense was missing one of its 2021 stars, fellow wideout Antonio Brown. Evans took the opportunity to edge a little closer to Brown on another impressive chart. Those two Bucs pass-catchers have had more multi-TD games than any other NFL players since Evans entered the NFL in 2014.
Most Games with Multiple TD Receptions, NFL, 2014-21
Evans can't climb any higher on the Buccaneers' all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards; he was already in the top spot on both when the 2021 season started. However, there is another current Buccaneer who is steadily making his way up those same lists. Last week, Godwin passed Joey Galloway for sixth-place on the yardage chart and he still needs a couple hundred more to catch Jimmie Giles in fifth. However, Godwin did catch three of the former Bucs above him on the receptions chart with his eight grabs for 111 yards on Sunday, moving into a tie for 7th.
Most Receptions, Buccaneers History
|4.||Warrick Dunn||1997-2001; 08||306|
As noted above, Brady threw for a season-low 211 passing yards in Sunday's win over Chicago, but the Bucs' offense still surpassed 400 yards for the fourth time this year thanks to its 182 yards on the ground. Leonard Fournette led the way with 81 yards on 15 carries (5.4 avg.), followed by Ronald Jones with 63 on 10 carries (6.3 avg.). That marks the first time in almost exactly five years that the Bucs have had two backs average better than 5.0 yards per run while each getting 10 carries in the same game. Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber did it in a 34-17 win in San Francisco on Oct. 23, 2016.
Fournette also had two catches for nine yards for a total of 90 yards from scrimmage on the afternoon. While he did not extend his streak of three straight games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage, he did remain third on that list among NFL running backs over the last month.
Most Yards from Scrimmage, NFL Running Backs, Weeks 4-7
It's a weekly challenge to get through all of the new Brady and Buccaneers offense notes in order to throw some credit in the defense's direction, but Tampa Bay's defense arguably had the better game in Week Seven, holding the Bears to just a single field goal. Key to that effort was four sacks of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, three of which caused fumbles. The Bucs' outside linebacker duo of Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul accounted for three of those sacks (safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. had the first one).
Both Barrett and Pierre-Paul moved up on the Bucs' all-time sack list with that effort. Since Pierre-Paul had two to Barrett's one, the two actually combined to catch Brad Culpepper in seventh place all-time. (Note: On a similar list last week, Barrett was listed with 31.5 sacks, but the NFL later changed a sack he had split with Vita Vea in Philadelphia to a full sack for him.)
Most Sacks, Buccaneers History
|Lee Roy Selmon||1975-84||78.5|
|Chidi Ahanotu||1993-2000; 04||34.5|
Barrett's sack and one of Pierre-Paul's two takedowns caused fumbles that were recovered by the Buccaneers. With his strip-sack, Barrett took over the NFL lead in that category since he arrived in Tampa in 2019.
Most Strip-Sacks, NFL, 2019-21
|Yannick Ngakoue||Four teams*||7|
(* Ngakoue has played for the Jaguars, Vikings, Ravens and Raiders in that time span.)
The fumble that Barrett caused with his strip sack late in the first quarter on Sunday was recovered by Vita Vea at the Bears' 35 and quickly turned into a touchdown by the offense. Cornerback Dee Delaney, making his first NFL start, also set the Bucs up for a first-quarter touchdown with the first interception of his career. Later cornerback Pierre Desir notched his first interception as a Buccaneer, leading to the Bucs' final points in the fourth quarter on a Ryan Succop field goal.
The Buccaneers also got an interception by safety Jordan Whitehead and a fumble recovery by Barrett but didn't score after those two takeaways. They still got 17 points off turnovers, however, and are the league leaders in that category since the arrival of Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles in 2019.
Most Points Off Takeaways, NFL, 2019-2021
|Most Points Off Takeaways, NFL, 2019-2021|
|1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 289|
|2. Baltimore Ravens: 240|
|3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 222|
|4. Green Bay Packers: 214|
|5. Dallas Cowboys: 201|
All of those takeaways helped the Buccaneers run up a huge lead early, as it was 35-3 by the intermission. That tied for the most points the Bucs have ever scored in a single half of play, and it set a new team record for scoring in the first half.
Most Points Scored, One Half, Buccaneers History