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Mike Evans or Rachaad White? | Week 10 Game Ball

Brianna Dix and Scott Smith make their nominations for who should get the Game Ball after the Bucs 20-6 drubbing of the Titans at home on Sunday…Fans will vote to pick the winner


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, 20-6, in a game that included an efficient, mostly mistake-free offense and a defense that swarmed rookie quarterback Will Levis and completely contained hard-charging running back Derrick Henry. Many, many players made significant contributions to the 14-point win.

For instance, the Buccaneers had a season-high 13 hits on the quarterback on Sunday, and eight different players got in on that act. Devin White, Calijah Kancey, Shaquil Barrett and Yaya Diaby each had two of those QB hits. Antoine Winfield Jr. had one of them to go along with a team-high six tackles and the Bucs' only interception of the day. Kancey, Diaby and Lavonte David all had multiple tackles for loss.

On offense, wide receiver Mike Evans was the headliner with 143 receiving yards and a touchdown, but it was running back Rachaad White who sparked the Bucs on a 20-3 run by taking a screen pass and dashing through the defense for a 43-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Quarterback Baker Mayfield helped the Bucs shake a slow start by repeatedly and successfully pressing the ball downfield.

In other words, a lot of players could conceivably be in line for the Game Ball after this win, which makes the task at hand a little tougher for me and Staff Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix. After every Buccaneer victory this season, we are asked to nominate two players for the honor of receiving our (fictional) Game Ball. Those two are then included in a list of four candidates…and then the final decision is up to you. After you review the cases we make for two of those players, you will find a link at the bottom of the page to place your vote.

Since we can't duplicate votes and getting the first pick could be important, we are going to alternate the order of our choices from week to week. It's my turn to go first. So, who should get this week's Game Ball? Here are our suggestions.

Scott Smith: WR Mike Evans

I ask you to consider the plight of Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton when making your choice here today. In the third quarter, with the Bucs clinging to a 10-3 lead, Fulton wrapped up Evans at the Titans' five-yard line right after a catch. A first-and-goal would have been wonderful outcome for the Buccaneers, but Evans wasn't satisfied with that. Instead, he turned towards the goal line and simply willed himself across it. Fulton was along for the ride.

After the game, Evans joked – or perhaps half-joked – that he was extra motivated to get into the painted grass because, on the previous drive he had dropped a ball in the end zone and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal. Evans had another drop on third down earlier in the game in Tennessee territory that necessitated a punt, but he refused to let those two plays define his game.

Instead, he caught six passes for 143 yards, recording the 38th 100-yard receiving game of his career, postseason included. He averaged 23.8 yards per catch. The Bucs wouldn't have been in position to kick a field goal after his drop if he hadn't made a very difficult sliding catch of a 43-yard pass at the Titans' eight. In the end, Evans accounted for a little more than half of Mayfield's 278-yard passing output.

If you think reaching milestones should factor into a Game Ball decision, then allow me to drop a couple on you. Evans' touchdown catch was the 87th of his career, moving him into a tie for 16th place in NFL history with Hall of Famer Andre Reed. His yardage total was enough to move him past Chad Johnson (11,059) into 38th place in league history; he now has 11,162 in his career and his 101 behind DeSean Jackson for the next spot.

Brianna Dix: RB Rachaad White

Hard to disagree with Scott on this one but to play devil's advocate, I am going to go with running back Rachaad White. White got the Buccaneers on the scoreboard against the Titans, taking a screen to the house on a 43-yard catch-and-run. He showcased his dynamic prowess in space, quickly accelerating north-south after making the initial Tennessee defender miss. White's pass-catching ability and open-field agility helped complement the run game. His touchdown play marked the longest scoring play of the season for Tampa Bay and the longest play of White's career. The second-year back finished with 98 yards from scrimmage, including 51 on the ground and 47 in the passing game.

Among running backs in the NFL, White ranks second in receiving yards (326) and third in receptions (35) in 2023. While the Bucs continue to build the run game and develop mid-zone principles and duo concepts – the latter of which White did not run in college at Arizona State – White has helped manufacture the run game to open up play-action with his ability on the perimeter. He set the tone on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium and eventually, the three-to-four-yard dirty runs turned into more with his patience and vision. The out-breaking routes early on with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin paved the way for White and he took advantage, turning the jets on. He continues to make an impact for the Bucs in 2023 and his versatile skillset keeps defenses guessing when he lines up.

Who deserves the Game Ball for the Bucs' win over Tennessee? Click here to cast your vote.

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