When Mike Evans was growing up and dreaming of the NFL, his favorite wide receiver was Randy Moss, the eventual Hall-of-Famer who burst right onto the scene as one of the league's best players in 1998. Now Evans shares an accomplishment with Moss that only one other player in league history can claim.
In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 27-9 win over San Francisco on Sunday, Evans led his team with six receptions for 116 yards, in the process pushing his 2018 season total to 1,073. In doing so, he joined Moss and current Cincinnati star A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history to begin their careers with five consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Even including players who had four such seasons in their first five NFL campaigns still generates a relatively short and extremely star-studded list of names.
Most 1,000-Yard Receiving Seasons, First Five Years of Career, NFL History
Evans posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game on Sunday and his sixth of the year in just 11 outings. That's already tied for the second most 100-yard games in a single season in franchise history and he has five games left to chase the record. Evans extended his own career franchise record to 19 100-yard receiving games.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Evans is already the Buccaneers' all-time leader in receiving yards (5,652) and touchdown receptions (37) and he owns the franchise single-season record for touchdown catches (12 in 2014 and 2016) as well. He does not yet have the Bucs' single-season record for receiving yards, but he is on pace to break it this year. Mark Carrier set the mark at 1,422 in 1989 and Evans' current pace of 97.5 per game would lead him to 1,561 by season's end.
If Evans does reach that mark, he would finish the year with a career total of 6,140 receiving yards, which would be the sixth-most ever in a player's first five NFL seasons. If Evans can average just 69.6 yards the rest of the way he'll crack 6,000 yards and join another incredible list of NFL names.
Players with 6,000-Plus Receiving Yards, First Five Seasons, NFL History (with Mike Evans' projected total also listed)
(* Projected based on 2018 per-game average.)
Evans has cracked 1,000 yards again on just 62 catches (so far) and his average of 17.3 yards per catch ranks eighth in the NFL among qualifying pass-catchers. Evans and Kansas City's Tyreek Hill are the only players in the NFL this season to average at least 17 yards per catch on 60 or more receptions. They are the first to do so since Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins in 2015.
Evans is averaging 97.5 receiving yards per game while Hill is at 100.5 per game. Those two star wideouts could become just the ninth and 10th players since the NFL merger to average at least 95 yards per game and 17 yards per catch in the same season, and only the fifth and sixth to do it while playing 10 or more games.
Players to Average 95-Plus Receiving Yards Per Game and 17-Plus Yards Per Reception, NFL, 1970-2018
(* With five games remaining in the season.)
Evans led the Bucs in yards against the 49ers but the two touchdown catches on the day went to Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries. Brate, whose role in the offense will expend down the stretch after the loss of O.J. Howard to injured reserve, continues to find the end zone at a rate among the best in the league at his position. In fact, since the start of the 2016 season, only one NFL tight end has caught more scoring passes than Brate, and only by a margin of one.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL Tight Ends, 2016-18
Brate's six-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter opened the scoring against San Francisco and gave him 21 TDs in his career. That moved him out of a tie with Vincent Jackson and into sole possession of ninth place in team annals in that category. Brate would need two more to catch Bruce Hill in eighth, three more to catch Dave Moore in seventh and four more to equal Mike Williams in sixth.
Humphries' touchdown was the game's final score, as he caught a 28-yard pass from a scrambling Jameis Winston for his fourth score of 2018. That's a career-high for the former undrafted free agent, who had a total of four touchdown catches in his first three NFL seasons. Humphries caught the ball at the 49ers' 15-yard line then turned and darted diagonally to the goal line, slicing between two defenders and pushing through safety Antone Exum to get into the end zone. Those 15 yards gained after the catch are nothing new for Humphries, who is among the league's best at picking up YAC.
Running backs tend to dominate the NFL's leaderboard in YAC and YAC per reception because they catch a high percentage of their passes behind or near the line of scrimmage. Among wide receivers only, Humphries is tied for 12th in the NFL in total YAC but he cracks the 10 in YAC per reception for qualifying players. And among all players with at least 40 catches, only one wideout in the NFL has picked up more YAC per catch than Humphries. That player is the Rams' Cooper Kupp, who is now on injured reserve.
Most Yards After Catch Per Reception, Minimum 40 Receptions, NFL, 2018
The quarterback who threw those touchdown passes to Brate and Humphries was Jameis Winston, making his return to the starting lineup after being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week Nine. Winston completed 28 of 39 passes for 312 yards, those two touchdowns and no interceptions, creating a passer rating of 117.4 for the game. His two scoring tosses put him on the verge of breaking one of the Buccaneers' all-time passing records.
Most Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History
Winston ranks third on the Buccaneers' all-time passing yardage chart and could move up one more spot as soon as next weekend. He would need 207 passing yards to do so.
Most Passing Yards, Buccaneers History
View Team Photographer Kyle Zedaker's top photos from the Buccaneers' Week 12 win over the San Francisco 49ers.