Bucs WR Evans kicks off 2023 with a record breaking bang
The 2022 season has not gone according to plan for the Bucs wide receiver Michael Evans.
A year after breaking his own single-season franchise record for touchdown catches with 13 in 2020, Evans set a new record with 14 TDs in 2021. But this season, Evans only had three touchdown catches ahead of Sunday’s game in week 17 against the Panthers.
Evans had not scored a touchdown since scoring twice against Kansas City in a 41-31 loss in Week 4.
But that all changed against Carolina when Tampa Bay needed Evans the most.
With the NFC South division title on the line, Evans came through with one of the best games of his career, catching a season-high 10 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-24 victory over the Panthers.
“Yeah, Mike played great, as always,” said Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. “I love playing with him outside and he’s a great player. I’ve missed him too many times this year so it’s been nice to get in touch with him and hopefully we can keep it that way. I think we will do that.’
Evans dropped a wide-open touchdown bomb from Brady on the Bucs’ first drive at Carolina in a 21-3 loss in Week 7. But in the rematch, Evans atoned for that mistake by pulling in TD passes of 63 , 57 and 30 meters. to help the Bucs come back from a 14-0 deficit and take a 24-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The deep ball connection between Brady and Evans has been off for most of the year, but got going again just in time for Tampa Bay to win back-to-back NFC South titles.
“The last time we played the Panthers, we knew we had left way too many plays on the field,” said Evans. ‘I know I did. I was excited to get another shot because they play a lot of Quarters, man and Cover 3 so I knew we’d get chances in the passing game. The [offensive] line did a great job protecting, everyone had their hand on the attack. It was our best game offensively and we needed that.”
The Bucs scored 30 points for the second time all season, and the connection between Brady and Evans was a big reason why on Sunday.
“They played a lot of Cover 1 and Tom was just dropping dimes,” said Brady. “Those were really good balls. One of the best games I’ve seen Tom play since he’s been here. They went straight into the granary every time. He played an incredible game.”
Brady finished the game with 34 of 45 passes for a season-high 432 yards with three touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and no interceptions. Evans posted his third game of 100 receiving yards or more this season and reached 1,000 receiving yards for the season for the ninth straight year, extending his own NFL record to start his career.
The best receiver in Bucs history was tied with Tim Brown (1993–2001) with nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at any point in his career. Only Jerry Rice has more with 11 seasons (1986-96).
“I had two seasons in the 1,000 meters [at Texas A&M], too,” Evans said with a laugh. No, every year is different. I just thank God for blessing me to be healthy and to have great people around me to accomplish this feat. Hopefully I can keep renewing it every year I play.
Bucs WR Evans had one of his best games against the Panthers
On Sunday, Evans was just two yards off his career best, which was 209 yards in Washington in 2014. And he was nine yards off Vincent Jackson’s franchise-record 216 yards against New Orleans in 2012.
Evans has caught three touchdowns in a game twice before — against Chicago last year and against the Giants in 2019. That’s one short of Jimmie Giles’ Bucs franchise record, which was four against Miami in 1985.
Evans has played 18 multi-touchdown games since entering the league in 2014. Only Las Vegas Pro Bowler Davante Adams has more (20).
“Yeah, Mike played great, like he always does,” said Brady. “I love playing with him there and he’s a great player. I’ve missed him too many times this year so it’s been nice to get in touch with him and hopefully we can keep it that way. I think we will do that.’
Evans and Brady will not play one more game together this season next week in Atlanta. The NFC South champions will host either Dallas or Philadelphia in a Wild Card game in the first round of the playoffs the following week – thanks to their role in a big win over Carolina on Sunday.
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