Wide receiver Mike Evans caught six passes for 107 yards on Sunday in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' last-minute loss to the Carolina Panthers. It was Evans' first 100-yard game of the 2017 season but the 13th of his four-year NFL career. That equals the number of 100-yard games that Evans' former teammate, Vincent Jackson, had for the Buccaneers from 2012-16. Only two players in franchise history – Mark Carrier with 15 and Kevin House with 14 – have had more.
In the process, Evans accomplished roughly two-thirds of what he needed to do over the Buccaneers' final two games of the season in order to join a far more exclusive club. His 107 yards against the Panthers left him needing just 54 more next Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in order to reach 1,000 on the season. Evans already surpassed that mark in each of his first three seasons, and if he gets to quadruple digits again he will join Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history to open their careers with four straight 1,000-yard campaigns.
Cumulatively, Evans now has 4,524 receiving yards in his young career. Only six players in league history have ever had more in their first four professional seasons, and depending upon his production against the Saints in Week 17, Evans could pass two more of them by season's end.
Most Receiving Yards, First Four Seasons, NFL History
|Torry Holt||St. Louis||1999-2002||5,088|
|Jerry Rice||San Francisco||1985-88||4,881|
|Mike Evans||Tampa Bay||2014-17||4,524|
|Odell Beckham||N.Y. Giants||2014-17||4,424|
With his six catches on Sunday, Evans moved up one spot on the Buccaneers' all-time list, passing Keyshawn Johnson to take over first place. He remains third in team annals in receiving yards, behind Mark Carrier and James Wilder.
Most Career Receptions, Buccaneers History
|Warrick Dunn||1997-01; 08||306||2,704||9|
While Evans led the way on Sunday, three other Buccaneers surpassed 50 receiving yards against Carolina. Rookie Chris Godwin hauled in three passes for 98 yards, Adam Humphries added 51 yards on three receptions and Freddie Martino recorded two grabs for 57 yards. It is not a particularly common occurrence for the Buccaneers to have four different players with 50-plus receiving yards in the same game…at least it wasn't common until this year. There were nine such games in the Buccaneers' first 41 seasons but it has happened three more times in 2017. Sunday's game marked the first time in five years that the Bucs had a 100-yard receiver and three more over 50.
Four or More Buccaneers, 50+ Receiving Yards, Same Game
|12/24/2017||@CAR||M.Evans (107), C.Godwin (98), F.Martino (57), A. Humphries (51)|
|10/22/2017||@BUF||O.Howard (98), M.Evans (88), D.Jackson (73), C.Brate (60)|
|10/1/2017||NYG||C.Brate (80), A.Humphries (70), M.Evans (67), O.Howard (63)|
|10/12/2014||BAL||L.Murphy (72), V.Jackson (66), A.Seferian-Jenkins (58), M. Evans (55)|
|10/14/2012||KAN||M.Williams (113), T.Underwood (68), V.Jackson (66), D.Martin (55)|
|9/21/2008||@CHI||A.Bryan (138), J.Stevens (61), I.Hilliard (57), M.Clayton (54)|
|12/23/2007||@SF||A.Smith (79), J.Stevens (73), M.Clayton (71), M.Pittman (54), I.Hilliard (50)*|
|11/23/1997||@CHI||R.Anthony (59), J.Harris (54), R.Thomas (53), K.Williams (53)|
|10/4/1992||IND||L.Dawsey (61), W.Drewrey (61), S.Jennings (59), M.Carrier (51)|
|10/16/1988||@IND||B.Hill (162), R.Hall (121), M.Carrier (61), F.Pillow (55)|
|1/2/1983||CHI||K.House (95), J.Giles (75), J.Wilder (61), G.Jones (56), T.Bell (60)*|
|11/16/1980||@MIN||G.Jones (121), I.Hagins (94), K.House (77), J.Eckwood (59)|
( Five players with 50+ yards.)
Godwin got most of his 98 yards on one second-quarter play on which he ran a short post, caught a hard pass from Jameis Winston, eluded two tacklers just after the grab and broke free down the sideline for 70 yards. It was Tampa Bay's longest play from scrimmage this season and the longest reception by a Buccaneer since Tiquan Underwood's 85-yard touchdown at Detroit on Nov. 24, 2013. That also made it the longest completion of Winston's three-year career.*
*While Godwin's big play was just the 27th longest completion in team history, it was the second-longest by a Buccaneer rookie, and the longest by a Buccaneer rookie *wide receiver.
*Longest Receptions by a Rookie, Buccaneer History
Winston found eight different pass-catchers in total on Sunday, including rookie wide receiver Bobo Wilson, whose 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter was the first reception of his career. Wilson is the second Buccaneer this season to score on his first NFL catch, joining offensive tackle Leonard Wester, who caught a two-yard touchdown pass against Detroit in Week 14. Wilson is the first Buccaneer wideout to pull off that feat since Donteea Dye did it at Washington on Nov. 25, 2015.
Winston threw for 367 yards against the Panthers. He has five 300-yard outings this season despite sitting out three games and missing at least half of two others due to a shoulder injury. He is the first Buccaneer quarterback ever to record five 300-yard passing games in the same season. Through three seasons, Winston has 10 300-yard passing games, tied for the second-most in franchise history. He has surpassed 300 yards in nearly one-quarter of his Buccaneer outings.
Most 300-Yard Passing Games, Buccaneers History
|Steve DeBerg||1984-87; 92-93||6||64|
One week after setting a single-game career high with a completion percentage of 77.14% against Atlanta, Winston topped himself with a 77.78% completion rate in Charlotte. He did so by completing 21 of 27 passes, and he was not intercepted. That added up to a 131.3 passer rating, following his 130.5 mark a week earlier. That is just the third time in team history that a quarterback has finished two consecutive games with passer ratings north of 130. Mike Glennon did it against Atlanta and Detroit in 2013 (11/17 and 11/24) and Josh Freeman did it against Seattle and New Orleans to close out the 2010 season (12/26 and 1/2).
Since returning from a three-week absence due to his shoulder injury, Winston has completed 72.5% of his passes, averaged 9.25 yards per attempt, thrown for 1,221 yards and tossed eight touchdown passes. All of those rank in the top five in the NFL in that span, with his yards per attempt total leading all players. All of that plus just two interceptions thrown has added up to a 114.5 passer rating, the best in the NFL over the last four weeks.
Best Passer Rating, NFL, Weeks 13-16
Winston threw four passes for 30 or more yards on Sunday, on the way to 367 yards on just 27 pass attempts. The resulting yards-per-attempt of 13.59 against the Panthers was the second highest single-game mark ever recorded by a Buccaneer passer.
Highest Single-Game Yards-Per-Pass-Attempt Rate, Buccaneers History
That robust yards-per-attempt figure also stands out among all NFL passers this season. Only one quarterback has had a higher rate in any game in 2017.
Highest Single-Game Yards-Per-Pass-Attempt Rate, NFL, 2017
Of the 391 passes Winston has thrown this season, 161 have resulted in first downs. That 41.2% rate of creating first downs is tied for first in the NFL with Houston's DeShaun Watson, who was injured after seven appearances and has 187 fewer pass attempts than Winston.
Highest First-Down Percentage on Pass Attempts, NFL, 2017
Given that first-down rate for Winston, it's not surprising that the Buccaneers are among the NFL's best at moving the chains. Tampa Bay has had at least 20 first downs in five straight games and nine of the 10 complete games that Winston has played in 2017. The Buccaneers have at least a dozen passing first downs in seven straight games and 13 of 15 outings this year.
Tampa Bay ranks second in the NFL with 324 first downs, and its 224 passing first downs lead all teams. It is also a new Buccaneer single-season record, with one game still left to play.
Most Passing First Downs, NFL Teams, 2017
- Tampa Bay…224
- New England…220
- L.A. Chargers…205
Most Passing First Downs, Single-Season, Buccaneers History
Odds and Ends
- DE Will Gholston blocked Graham Gano's extra point attempt in the second quarter on Sunday after Damiere Byrd's 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That was the fourth kick that Gholston has blocked since 2014, two on extra points and two on field goals. He is one of only four players in the NFL with four blocked kicks over the last four years, joining Oakland DE Denico Autry, Atlanta DT Ra'Shede Hageman and Cincinnati/Indianapolis DE Margus Hunt.
- Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy recorded one of the Buccaneers' two sacks on Sunday, a 12-yard takedown of Cam Newton in the first quarter. McCoy has a team-high six sacks in 2017, and he continues to lead all NFL defensive tackles with 39.5 sacks since 2013.
- For the first time in the franchise's 42-year history, the Buccaneers have surpassed 4,000 net passing yards in a season. Winston's big day in Charlotte pushed the team's 2017 total to 4,021 net passing yards. The previous team record was 3,983, set in 2012.