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Mike Evans Sets Personal Best, Has Team Record in Sight

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropped a 20-12 decision in Baltimore on Sunday, gaining a season-low 241 yards of total offense in the process. The Buccaneers continue to have the NFL's third-ranked offense and top-ranked passing attack, in terms of yards, but quarterback Jameis Winston was limited to 157 passing yards by the Ravens' defense, which now ranks first in the NFL in both yards and points allowed.

Despite those lower-than-usual totals for the Bucs' explosive attack, the connection between Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans remained very productive. Evans led all players with 121 yards on four receptions, turning in the 20th 100-yard game of his career and extending the Buccaneers' franchise record in that regard. In the process, Evans set a new single-season career high by pushing his 2018 total to 1,328 receiving yards. His previous personal best was 1,321, in his 2016 Pro Bowl campaign.

With two games remaining, Evans is less than 100 yards away from breaking a franchise record that has stood for nearly 30 years. Given that he is averaging 94.9 yards per game, Evans has a very good shot at taking over the top spot on the Bucs' single-season receiving yardage chart.

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Only one player in the NFL has tallied more receiving yards so far this season than the Buccaneers' top pass-catcher.

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(* Does not include Dec. 17 Monday Night Football game.)

Three weeks ago, Evans joined Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history to begin their careers with five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. As Evans has continued to add to his 2018 total, he has also climbed up another chart full of some of the greatest receivers in NFL history. Evans now has more receiving yards through his first five seasons than all but six other men in league annals, and he has a realistic shot at moving up several more spots on that list.

View Team Photographer Kyle Zedaker's best photos from the Buccaneers' Week 15 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

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Evans has eclipsed his own single-season best from 2016 despite having 22 fewer catches (so far) than he tallied that season. That's because he is working on a career-best average of 17.9 yards per catch in 2018. Evans is the only player in the NFL with 50 or more catches and an average of at least 17 yards per grab.

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Despite having their least productive passing game of the season, the Buccaneers as a team still broke their franchise single-season record in that category on Sunday. The 2018 squad is also on the verge of setting a new team record for most total yards of offense in a single season.

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Besides Evans, the other player providing most of the offense for the Buccaneers on Sunday in Baltimore was running back Peyton Barber. Barber rushed 19 times for 85 yards and a touchdown, pushing his season total to 762 rushing yards. That is the fourth-highest single-season total in team history by a player who was not drafted.

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DEFENSIVE DATA CRUNCH

Tampa Bay's defense was able to limit the Ravens to 20 points on Sunday despite a major imbalance in plays run and time of possession. Baltimore ran 74 plays to just 47 for the Buccaneers and controlled the ball for 37:10 of the game's 60 minutes. One reason for the relatively low score was the pair of takeaways mustered by the Buccaneers' defense.

After going seven straight games without a takeaway on defense (the one turnover by a Bucs' foe in that span was committed on special teams), Tampa Bay has been on a roll in that department in the season's stretch drive. In fact, the Buccaneers are tied for the NFL lead in takeaways over the past four weeks.

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The first of those two takeaways was a fumble recovery by linebacker Lavonte David after a botched handoff by Lamar Jackson late in the first quarter. That led to a 51-yard touchdown drive by the Buccaneers and the game's first points. It was no surprise when it was David who fell on the loose football, as he has made a habit of that throughout his career. In fact, he now has the most opponent fumble recoveries in franchise history.

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David doesn't just stand out in this regard in relation to Buccaneers history. He's also been the best at recovering fumbles in the entire NFL since he arrived in Tampa as a second-round draft pick in 2012.

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(* Does not include Dec. 17 Monday Night Football game.)

David also accounted for both of the Buccaneers' sacks of Lamar Jackson, marking the third two-sack game of his career. In the process, David reached the 20-sack plateau for his career and joined just three other players currently active* in the NFL who have at least 20 sacks and at least 10 interceptions.

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(* "Active" is defined as having been on a regular-season roster during the 2018 season. Derrick Johnson played six games for Oakland before being released on Oct. 16.)

David also led the Buccaneers in tackles on Sunday with 12 stops. Second on the list was rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea, who had nine stops during a particularly active afternoon. Comparable tackle statistics are available through the 1999 season, and Vea is just the sixth Buccaneer defensive lineman in that span to have a game with nine or more tackles.

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