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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans "Overcomes Adversity" to Have Big Game Against Titans

WR Mike Evans shook off a surprising end zone drop on Sunday to have yet another huge outing, catching six passes for 143 yards and the clinching touchdown in a win over Tennessee

No NFL receiver wants to drop a pass in the end zone, but it's a lot easier to gently joke about it after the game when your team has won…and especially when you were one of the major reasons it got that victory.

On an afternoon on which he methodically racked up 143 receiving yards while also moving into a tie for 16th place in NFL history in touchdown catches and further cementing his eventual Hall of Fame resume, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans had one of those unfortunate drops, bobbling a pass at the back of the end zone in the third quarter after he had gotten wide open against the Tennessee Titans defense. The Buccaneers settled for a field goal and went on to win comfortably, 20-6.

Of course, it was his own difficult, sliding catch for 43 yards that got the Buccaneers into a first-and-goal situation, and on the very next drive he would score on a 22-yard catch to up the Bucs up by 14. After the game, Evans suggested – perhaps jokingly – that he had messed up because he got too cocky in the moment, thinking about which fan in the end zone stands he was going to give the ball to. Fortunately for everyone involved, he had another TD ball to give away not too much later, because there's no way the Bucs' play-caller or football distributor was going to start ignoring him because of one drop.

"Mike's mentally tough," said Head Coach Todd Bowles. "If he drops one, get right back to him because we know he's going to catch it again. He's going to be open multiple times. If we keep feeding him, we know he's going to come through for us."

Evans came through early, middle and late for the Buccaneers, as the offense created 10 plays of 15 or more yards. Evans had a 20-yard catch on the game's opening drive, a 16-yard grab on the Bucs' second-quarter touchdown drive and a total of 51 yards by halftime. His third-quarter exploits are noted above and he drew a critical illegal contact penalty in the fourth period for a first down as the Bucs were trying to grind down the clock.

"He's a stud," said quarterback Baker Mayfield. "Things like that [drop0] are going to happen. He's going to be harder on himself than anybody is. The ball's going to continue to find him. He knows that. I trust all our guys. No matter what happens, the ball's going to find him again and he made the next play."

Evans' touchdown catch, the 87th of his career, looked like it was going to be a play to set up a Buccaneer score, as he caught the ball at the five but was immediately grabbed by cornerback Kristian Fulton. Fueled by the touchdown that got away, Evans wheeled towards the goal line and simply dragged the defender with him into the end zone. Earlier in the 80-yard drive, Mayfield had gone to Evans again in a key situation, hitting him for a gain of 27 on third-and-five.

"I was angry," said Evans. "I was angry at myself and I was frustrated, and the next drive Baker kept throwing me the ball and I just made a point to get that touchdown back for him.

Evans, who passed Chad Johnson for 38th place on the league's all-time receiving yardage chart on Sunday and now has 11,162 of them, has nothing else to prove. He's the only player ever to start his career with nine consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and, now that he's at 737 yards with eight games still to play, it looks likely he'll make it 10 in a row. But every game is a new challenge and Evans says the key to winning most of those challenges is to not let a negative outcome bring you down.

"We just kept playing," he said. "That's what this game is about – adversity, and overcoming that. That's what life is about. You know, we just kept fighting, and we were able to make some plays down the stretch to win it.

"Playing football in general, you're going to have low-lights, because you're going up against the best of the best and things happen so fast. You have to keep playing. You can't let it keep you down, so that's my mindset all the time. Nobody likes to mess up, drop passes or miss opportunities – you just have to keep playing."

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