Heading into 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had conducted 38 seasons in which they had played 16 games, excluding two strike-shortened seasons and the 1976-77 campaigns when the NFL still had 14-game schedules. In every single one of those 38 seasons, they had at least one running back post a 100-yard rushing game.
The streak is alive. On Sunday in the Meadowlands, running back Peyton Barber ran 18 times for 106 yards, the Buccaneers' first 100-yard rushing game of 2018. It was the second such outing for Barber, who also had the team's only 100-yard game of 2017. Barber averaged 5.9 yards per carry and also scored a touchdown against the New York Giants, and he got to triple digits in the fewest carries since LeGarrette Blount also achieved that feat on 18 carries at Green Bay in 2011 (Nov. 20).
Barber helped the Buccaneers post a season-high 151 rushing yards on Sunday to go with 359 net passing yards. Wide receiver Mike Evans was the leader in the aerial attack, catching six passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Barber and Evans are the first pair of Buccaneer teammates to record 100-yard rushing and 100-yard receiving games, respectively, in the same contest since Doug Martin and Evans pulled that off against Washington on Oct. 25, 2015.
Sunday's game marked just the 10th time in franchise history that the Buccaneers have had one player rush for 100-plus yards and score a touchdown and another player record 100-plus receiving yards and also score a touchdown.
(* Mark Carrier also had 105 receiving yards in this game.)
Evans recorded his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season and pushed his 2018 total to 957 receiving yards. He is tied for the third-most 100-yard receiving games in the NFL and is fourth in receiving yards overall.
Evans' 957 yards are the most ever for a Buccaneers player through the team's first 10 games of a season. He is on pace for 1,531 receiving yards by season's end which, if realized, would set a new franchise single-season record. Mark Carrier's mark of 1,422 receiving yards in 1989 remains the team's standard. Evans' career high is 1,321 in 2016.
Evans actually scored two touchdowns in Sunday's game because, in the third quarter, he jumped on a loose ball in the end zone after Giants defensive end Mario Edwards had forced quarterback Jameis Winston to fumble the ball forward from the three-yard line. Evans is not the first Buccaneer to score on a fumble return, or even the first offensive player in team history to score on a fumble return. However, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in franchise history to recover his own team's fumble for a touchdown. (In contrast, as an example, Keenan McCardell scored on a fumble return against Indianapolis on Oct. 6, 2003, after an interception and a subsequent fumble by the interceptor.)
Winston, who relieved Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback in the third quarter, threw the 41-yard touchdown pass that Evans caught and also zipped an eight-yard scoring toss to Adam Humphries in the fourth quarter. Those two plays pushed Winston's career total to 77 touchdown passes, which is now tied for second most in franchise history. Winston needs just four more to take the all-time lead.
As a team, the Buccaneers rang up 510 yards of net offense at MetLife stadium, the 10th-highest single-game mark in franchise history. Tampa Bay now has 11 games with 500 or more net yards in their 43 seasons of play, and five of them have occurred in 2018. With six games to play, the Buccaneers are already just one shy of the NFL's all-time record for most 500-yard games in a single season.
Given the above note, it will come as no surprise that the Buccaneers' total of 4,585 yards through 10 games – the most in the NFL this season – is a near-historic figure. It is, in fact, the third-most yards any team has ever recorded through its first 10 games in league history.
While the Buccaneers had a balanced attack against the Giants, for much of the season they have leaned heavily on the passing game. The Buccaneers lead the NFL with 361.0 net passing yards per game, and now have the highest total in NFL history through a team's first 10 games of a season
The Buccaneers moved the chains with little trouble at MetLife Stadium, recording 31 first downs, including 10 rushing first downs, the most they had posted in any game since getting 11 against Atlanta on Dec. 6, 2015. The 31 first downs overall are the second-most the team has ever recorded and the most it has ever put up in a non-overtime game.
Tampa Bay's defense surrendered 359 yards of offense in the loss but did sack Giants quarterback Eli Manning four times. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was traded by the Giants to Tampa Bay in the offseason, split the first of those four sacks with defensive end Carl Nassib then had one of his own later in the game. That gives Pierre-Paul 9.5 sacks on the season, which puts him a half-sack away from being the first Buccaneer to hit double digits in sacks since Simeon Rice had 14.0 in 2005. Pierre-Paul ranks eighth in the NFL in sacks through 11 weeks (prior to the Rams-Chiefs game on Monday night).