Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard Providing Big Plays

The Bucs' passing attack is succeeding in getting dynamic rookie TE O.J. Howard down the field with the ball in his hands…Plus notable achievements for Mike Evans and Patrick Murray

A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 12 matchup with the Falcons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end O.J. Howard had three receptions for 52 yards on Sunday at Atlanta, which happens to be the exact same totals he had the previous week in Miami. That's nothing more than a statistical coincidence, but Howard's per-catch average of 17.3 yards over those two games does have some significance.

On the season as a whole, Howard now has 331 yards and four touchdowns on 20 catches, which is an average of 16.6 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per reception. Though his overall receptions total isn't particularly high, he is showing signs of being one of the league's best down-the-field targets. In fact, of all the players in the NFL – not just tight ends – who have at least 20 receptions, Howard's 16.6 yards per catch ranks 10th.

Highest Yards-Per-Catch Average, NFL (min. 20 receptions)

Player

Pos.

Team

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

Marquise Goodwin

WR

SF

27

578

21.4

T.Y. Hilton

WR

IND

38

740

19.5

Sammy Watkins

WR

LAR

28

490

17.5

Robby Anderson

WR

NYJ

41

714

17.4

JuJu Smith-Schuster

WR

PIT

33

568

17.2

Brandin Cooks

WR

NE

51

869

17.0

Donte Moncrief

WR

IND

21

354

16.9

Paul Richardson

WR

SEA

35

584

16.7

Marvin Jones

WR

DET

44

731

16.6

O.J. Howard

TE

TB

20

331

16.6

As is quite noticeable in the above chart, Howard is the only tight end in the top 10. Obviously, that means he leads all NFL tight ends with at least 20 catches this season in yards per reception. Even if we relax that qualifier all the way down to a minimum of 10 receptions, Howard still ranks second.

Highest Yards-Per-Catch Average, NFL Tight Ends (min. 10 receptions)

**Player** **Team** **Rec.** **Yards** **Avg.**
Gerald Everett LAR 10 215 21.5
O.J. Howard TB 20 331 16.6
Vernon Davis WAS 33 527 16.0
Ed Dickson CAR 26 397 15.3
Rob Gronkowski NE 46 702 14.6

Howard has also found the end zone at a high per-catch rate. In fact, among all NFL players (not just tight ends) who have at least 20 receptions, the Buccaneers' rookie ranks first in touchdowns per catch.

**Player** **Team** **Pos.** **Rec.** **TDs** **TD/Rec.**
O.J. Howard TB TE 20 4 0.20
Josh Doctson WAS WR 21 4 0.19
Marvin Jones DET WR 44 8 0.18
Nelson Agholor PHI WR 33 6 0.18
Sammy Watkins LAR WR 28 5 0.18
Robby Anderson NYJ WR 41 7 0.17
Jimmy Graham SEA TE 49 8 0.16
Alshon Jeffery PHI WR 43 7 0.16
Tyler Kroft CIN TE 31 5 0.16
Jordy Nelson GB WR 38 6 0.16

Howard's biggest play in Atlanta on Sunday was a 29-yard reception on a seam pass between zones in the Falcons' defense late in the third quarter. That was the Bucs' longest gain of the game and it was the key play in an 80-yard touchdown drive that temporarily pulled the visitors within one score of the lead.

The Buccaneers have done a good job this season of getting both of their pass-catching tight ends, Howard and Cameron Brate, down the field. In fact, both Howard and Brate rank in the top three in the NFL among tight ends in average yards-at-the-catch (Y@C). Howard tops the list.

Average Y@C, NFL Tight Ends (min. 20 receptions)

**Player** **Team** **Rec.** **Yards** **Avg. Y@C**
O.J. Howard TB 20 331 12.2
Rob Gronkowski NE 46 702 10.1
Cameron Brate TB 35 442 9.6
Tyler Higbee LAR 21 262 9.4
Ed Dickson CAR 26 397 9.3

Howard's downfield ability recalls that of Jimmie Giles, a Buccaneers Ring of Honor member and the best tight end in franchise history. Should Howard maintain his current average through the end of the season, it would rank fourth in franchise history, with the three superior seasons all belonging to Giles.

Highest Per-Catch Average, Single Season, Tight Ends, Buccaneers History

**Player** **Season** **Rec.** **Yards** **Avg.**
Jimmie Giles 1980 33 602 18.2
Jimmie Giles 1982 28 499 17.8
Jimmie Giles 1981 45 786 17.5
O.J. Howard 2017 20 331 16.6
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 2015 21 338 16.1

**

Second-year RB Peyton Barber scored both of the Buccaneers' touchdowns in Atlanta, getting one in the third quarter on a two-yard sweep to the left pylon and one in the fourth quarter on a one-yard dive over the pile. He is the first Buccaneer to have two rushing touchdowns in a single game since Doug Martin did it at Jacksonville on Oct. 11, 2015. Barber was mostly used as a goal-line weapon; he had only three other carries in the game and finished with seven rushing yards. In another statistical oddity from Sunday's game, Barber became the only running back in the NFL this season to score two rushing touchdowns while gaining 10 or fewer rushing yards. (Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins also did it against Minnesota in Week 10, but that's not as odd of an outcome for a passer.)

According to Pro Football Reference, Barber is the first running back in Buccaneers history to score twice on the ground in one game while gaining 10 or fewer total rushing yards. Quarterback Josh McCown also did that against St. Louis on Sept. 14, 2014.

**

WR Mike Evans led the Buccaneers with 78 receiving yards on Sunday, catching a total of six passes. That reception total didn't lead the team – DeSean Jackson hauled in a season-high eight passes – but it was significant in that it moved Evans up two spots on the team's career list in that category. Evans jumped over Kevin House and Michael Pittman to land at sixth, and he has a good chance to move all the way up to third by season's end.

Most Receptions, Buccaneers History

**Player** **Pos** **Seasons** **Recs.**
James Wilder RB 1981-89 430
Mark Carrier WR 1987-92 321
Warrick Dunn RB 1997-2001, 08 306
Mike Alstott FB 1996-2006 305
Keyshawn Johnson WR 2000-03 298
Mike Evans WR 2014-17 289
Kevin House WR 1980-86 286
Michael Pittman RB 2002-07 284
Jimmie Giles TE 1978-86 279
Vincent Jackson WR 2012-16 268

Evans was already fifth on the club's all-time receiving yardage list before Sunday's game and he stayed in that spot despite the addition of 78 yards. However, he is now within striking distance of third place on that list. Evans has a per-game average of 70.2 yards this season and 76.4 yards in his career. If he were to match either of those averages next Sunday in Green Bay he would move up two spots on the Bucs' all-time list.

Most Receiving Yards, Buccaneers History

**Player** **Pos** **Seasons** **Yards** **YPG**
Mark Carrier WR 1987-92 5,018 57.0
Kevin House WR 1980-86 4,928 52.4
Vincent Jackson WR 2012-16 4,326 68.7
Jimmie Giles TE 1978-86 4,300 35.5
Mike Evans WR 2014-17 4,280 76.4
Joey Galloway WR 2014-17 3,912 59.3
Keyshawn Johnson WR 2000-03 3,828 67.2
James Wilder RB 1981-89 3,492 30.9
Gerald Carter WR 1981-87 3,443 34.4
Mike Williams WR 2010-13 2,947 54.6

As noted above, Evans has recorded an average of 76.4 receiving yards per game through his career, which now spans most of four seasons and a total of 56 outings. If Evans can maintain anything close to that average through the end of the year, he would join an exclusive list. Only 11 other players have averaged at least 75 receiving yards per game through the first four seasons of their careers. Evans and the Giants' Odell Beckham, who has been hurt most of this season, can make that a group of 13. Note that this list only include players who played four consecutive seasons to start their careers. Cleveland's Josh Gordon maintained a 78.7-yard per-game average through his first three seasons (2012-14) but has not played in the league since. Two replacement players during the 1987 players' strike (James Brim and Al Williams) had per-game averages in excess of 75 yards but those three games constituted their entire NFL careers.

Players with 75+ Receiving Yards Per Game Through Their First Four NFL Seasons

**Player** **Team** **Seasons** **GP** **Recs.** **Yards** **YPG**
Lance Alworth* SD 1962-65 45 201 4268 94.8
Odell Beckham NYG 2014-17 47 313 4424 94.1
Julio Jones ATL 2011-14 49 278 4330 88.4
Randy Moss MIN 1998-2001 64 308 5396 84.3
Charley Hennigan HOU 1960-63 53 241 4386 82.8
Anquan Boldin AZ 2003-06 56 342 4605 82.2
Jerry Rice* SF 1985-88 60 264 4881 81.4
A.J. Green CIN 2011-14 60 329 4874 81.2
Harlon Hill CHI 1954-57 44 155 3524 80.1
Torry Holt STL 1999-2002 64 306 5088 79.5
Tom Fears* LAR 1948-51 43 244 3355 78.0
Bob Hayes* DAL 1965-68 54 212 4142 76.7
Mike Evans TB 2014-17 56 289 4280 76.4
Larry Fitzgerald AZ 2004-07 60 330 4544 75.7
Isaac Bruce STL 1994-97 56 280 4206 75.1

**

Kicker Patrick Murray scored eight of the Buccaneers' 20 points on Sunday by making field goals of 36 and 27 yards and both of his extra points. Murray, who was also Tampa Bay's kicker during the 2014 season, has made 12 of his 14 field goal attempts since rejoining the team in Week Six of this season. In his two Buccaneer stints combined he is 32 of 38 on field goal attempts.

That makes Murray the most accurate kicker in franchise history. That is true whether or not one sets a minimum number of field goal attempts, but to weed out the kickers who were only very briefly Buccaneers, the list below requires at least 10 tries.

Best Field Goal Percentage, Buccaneers History (min. 10 attempts)

**Kicker** **Seasons** **Made** **Att.** **Pct.**
Patrick Murray 2014, 17 32 38 84.2%
Connor Barth 2009-13, 15 114 136 83.8%
Matt Bryant 2005-08 98 118 83.1%
Steve Christie 1990-91 38 47 80.9%
Rian Lindell 2013 23 29 79.3%

Murray has also made all 41 of his extra point attempts as a Buccaneer, including eight this year from the NFL's new longer PAT distance. Murray is one of six kickers in franchise history with at least 10 extra point tries without a miss, and he's got the second-most attempts of the players on that list.

Best Extra Point Percentage, Buccaneers History (min. 10 attempts)

**Kicker** **Seasons** **Made** **Att.** **Pct.**
Steve Christie 1990-91 49 49 100.0%
Patrick Murray 2014, 17 41 41 100.0%
Rian Lindell 2013 31 31 100.0%
Ken Willis 1992 20 20 100.0%
Eddie Murray 1992 13 13 100.0%
Jay Taylor 2004 11 11 100.0%
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