Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans set an all-time NFL record on Sunday, one that was seven years in the making.
With his three receptions for 46 yards against Atlanta in the season finale, Evans has pushed his 2020 receiving totals to 70 for 1,006 yards. That second figure is notable because it means he has now surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his seven NFL seasons. And that is notable because he's the first NFL player every to do that.
Entering 2020, Evans was alone with his boyhood idol, Randy Moss, as the only two players ever to open their careers with six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Moss did not reach 1,000 yards in his seventh season. Thus, Evans now stands alone as the only player in the NFL's 101-season history to open his career with seven straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Evans began Sunday's game needing only 40 yards to reach that incredible milestone, thanks to his recent hot streak. In Week 15 at Atlanta, he caught six passes for 110 yards, and in Week 16 at Detroit he hauled in 10 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday in another game against the Falcons, Evans got to the 1,000-yard mark with his third catch of the game, a 20-yard gain in the first quarter.
Prior to the season finale, the Buccaneers acknowledged that they considered the record important, though they did not want to force the ball to Evans. The team goal of winning an 11th game and heading into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak still came first.
"I think it's important for him and us," said Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich on Thursday. "I think it's important, really, for this organization to have that. That's a unique thing. Any time you can be one-of-one of anything – all the special players, all the great players that have come through this league that have done things, played that position – and he has the opportunity to be one-of-one. That's a unique thing. That just shows you how good a football player he is, and that's special. Obviously you want him to be able to get it. We're not going to try to force it. We're just going to have him play and let Mike be Mike and we'll see."
In addition to his new NFL milestone, Evans has essentially rewritten the receiving section of the Buccaneers' record book. He is the team's career leader in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown catches and 100-yard games. He also holds Tampa Bay's single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown receptions, and in fact upped that latter standard with his 13 scores in 2020. He had previously set that record with 12 in 2014 and then matched that total in 2016.