The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 27-17, Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, dropping to 1-8 on the season. Here are some of the more notable statistics and milestones from Sunday's game:
- Rookie wide receiver continued his emergence as an elite NFL receiver on Sunday, leading all players with 125 yards on seven receptions, including a 22-yard touchdown. Those numbers were nearly identical to the 7-124-2 line he put up in Cleveland the week before and they put him in rare company in franchise history. Evans is only the fifth player – and the first rookie – in Buccaneer annals to have consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown. One of the other four is his current fellow starter, Vincent Jackson, who pulled off the feat most recently last year against Philadelphia (Oct. 13) and Atlanta (Oct. 20). The other three on the list are Kevin House, Antonio Bryant and Mark Carrier, the latter of which is the only Buc to do it twice.
- Even without the touchdowns, Evans is the first rookie in Bucs history to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games, somewhat remarkable given the strong seasons by such newcomers as Michael Clayton in 2004 and Mike Williams in 2010. Thanks to this recent surge, Evans has thrust himself right into the middle of the discussion of who is the top rookie wideout in 2014. That's a significant honor, because the Class of 2014 looks like it could shape up as the best group of rookie receivers in NFL history. There are four rookies who rank among the NFL's top 50 in receptions so far, including Evans. Evans is fourth on that list, but he's also played one fewer game than New Orleans' Brandin Cooks and Buffalo's Sammy Watkins and two fewer than Jacksonville's Allen Robinson. Here's the list:
Brandin Cooks, NO
Allen Robinson, JAX
Sammy Watkins, BUF
Mike Evans, TB
- There are several additional things worth noting on that list. For one, Evans is second on the chart in yards despite playing fewer games than the rest. Therefore, it's not surprising to see that he ranks first among rookie receivers in yards per game, with 73.1. He's also first in yards per catch (15.0), tied for first in touchdown receptions (five) and second in receptions per game (4.9).
- Evans has caught at least four passes in each of his first eight games played. He is the first Buccaneer to have at least eight consecutive games with four or more receptions since Kellen Winslow (11 consecutive: 11/8/09 vs. Green Bay-9/19/10 at Carolina) and matches Michael Clayton's mark for the most consecutive games with at least four receptions by a rookie (eight consecutive: 10/3/04 vs. Denver-11/28/04 at Carolina).
- Evans missed one game due to injury, but if he continues to put up 73.1 yards per game over the Bucs' next seven outings, he would finish with just under 1,100 yards. That would be the second-best total by a rookie in franchise history. He has already risen to fifth on that list, passing Doug Martin, James Wilder, Kevin House, Mike Alstott and Tim Wright in one big rush on Sunday.Most Receiving Yards by a Rookie, Buccaneer History
WR Michael Clayton, 2004
WR Mike Williams, 2010
WR Lawrence Dawsey, 1991
WR Horace Copeland, 1993
WR Mike Evans, 2014
TE Tim Wright, 2013
FB Mike Alstott, 1996
WR Kevin House, 1980
RB James Wilder, 1981
RB Doug Martin, 2012
- The Buccaneers' other touchdown of the day was scored by TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a one-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Seferian-Jenkins and Evans, the Buccaneers have had a rookie score a touchdown in each of the last four games, and five of nine games overall. However, Sunday was the first time that the two rookie teammates scored in the same game. In fact, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins are the first pair of Buccaneer rookies to score touchdowns in the same game since the 2010 season finale. WRs Mike Williams and Dezmon Briscoe did it against New Orleans on Jan. 2, 2011. There were actually six different Buccaneer games in 2010 that featured a pair of rookie TD producers. Williams did it in tandem with RB LeGarrette Blount three times, and the other combinations were Blount and WR Arrelious Benn, Williams and Benn and Williams and S Cody Grimm.
- Mike Evans wasn't the only player who participated in Sunday's game, of course. QB Josh McCown made his first start since Week Three and threw for 301 yards on 27 of 43 passing. Earlier this season, Mike Glennon posted 300-yard games in Pittsburgh in Week Four and against Baltimore in Week Six. This is the first season since 2008 when two different quarterbacks posted 300-yard passing games for the Buccaneers; Brian Griese had one and Jeff Garcia had three that season. It also happened in 1987, 2004 and 2007. That 2007 season is the most interesting one on the list, in relation to the 2014 QB duo, because one of the two passers to do it that season was Luke McCown, Josh's younger brother. He and Garcia both had 300-yard games that year.
- McCown also rushed for 39 yards against the Falcons. That's the most by a Buccaneer quarterback since Josh Johnson ran for 45 yards vs. Carolina on Dec. 4, 2011.
- McCown's sharp passing helped the Buccaneers convert on 12 of 17 third downs against the Falcons, which is one of the best performances in team history in that category. STATS LLC has third down numbers recorded back through 1990, and the Bucs' 12 conversions overall, regardless of success rate, matches the most the team has had since then. The Buccaneers converted 12 of 21 third down tries against Arizona on Nov. 4, 2007. The team's success rate of 70.6% on third down Sunday is the third-highest mark in that time span, trailing a 7-of-9 performance (77.8%) against Miami on Sept. 21, 1997, and an 8-of-11 performance (72.7%) against Chicago on Sept. 20, 1998.
- Tampa Bay's opening drive on Sunday lasted for 8:36 and included 17 plays. That is the team's longest scoring drive of the season in both of those categories. The previous longs came on another possession against the Falcons, in Atlanta in Week Three. That one took 15 plays and 8:01 and ended in a Vincent Jackson touchdown catch. The last time the Bucs had a scoring drive of at least 17 plays was also against the Falcons, on October 20, 2013 (that one was 18 plays). The last time the Bucs had a drive that lasted at least eight and a half minutes and ended in points was on December 23, 2012, in St. Louis.
- The drive noted above ended in a 51-yard field goal by Patrick Murray. That is already the fourth field goal the rookie kicker has made of 50 or more yards this season, as many as veteran Rian Lindell had all of last year. Murray has seven more games to try to match or exceed the record of six, set by Connor Barth two seasons ago.Most 50+-Yard Field Goals, Single Season, Buccaneer History
Player, 50+-yard Field Goals
- Connor Barth, 2012…6
2t. Martin Gramatica, 2000…5
2t. Martin Gramatica, 2002…5
4t. Rian Lindell, 2013…4
4t. Patrick Murray, 2014…4
- WR Vincent Jackson recorded a season-high eight catches on Sunday, the most he has had in a single game since tying a career-high with 10 against Atlanta last season (Nov. 17). Jackson finished the game with eight receptions for 75 yards, and that's a pretty typical day for him against the Falcons. In seven career games against Atlanta, Jackson has averaged 5.5 catches and 77 yards per outing, and has also scored a total of four touchdowns.
- And, finally, very few "Stat Shots" entries would be complete without some sort of note regarding LB Lavonte David. In this case, David led all players with 14 total tackles (10 solos) and that is, remarkably, the fourth time he has hit exactly 14 tackles in the last five games. In the other one, he had nine at Cleveland, and he also posted a 12-tackle outing at Pittsburgh before that five game stretch. Over that six game stretch, David has led the entire NFL with 77 total tackles and 52 solo tackles. As of Monday afternoon, David had passed Carolina's Luke Kuechly for the top spot on the total tackles chart for the entire 2014 season, 103 to 97. There is a very good chance Kuechly will take the lead back on Monday night when the Panthers play the Philadelphia Eagles, but that will also be Kuechly's 10th game played, while David has only played in nine so far.