Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are waking up on Monday morning feeling something rare: happiness over a win on Sunday.
Only twice over the last seven weeks have the Bucs been able to celebrate Victory Monday, and a deep dive into the win on Sunday over Carolina will leave folks feeling a little uneasy about how things went. Beating a now 1-11 team shouldn’t be as much of a grind as it was for Tampa Bay, but wins have been hard to come by since the bye week and turning the season around starts one game at a time.
That’s hopefully what has happened. The Bucs parlayed a win over the Panthers with a loss by the Saints to jump back into second place just a game behind Atlanta for the NFC South lead. Tampa Bay heads to Georgia next week to play the Falcons in a game that could see them return to first place after crashing out hard following a 3-1 start to the year.
Of course, we’ve been fooled before. The Bucs beat the Titans back in Week 10 only to lose their next two games before rebounding against Carolina. We’ll see what the future holds, but the win over the Panthers was powered by more than a few key players stepping up in big ways to help attempt to get the season back on track.
5 winners (and 2 losers) from Buccaneers win over Panthers
Winner: Mike Evans, WR
Outside of the team as a whole, it’s hard to find a bigger winner than Mike Evans. He finished the game with 162 yards and a touchdown, one the went down as the longest of his career.
It’s his career that was the big talking point after the game, and for good reason.
Evans eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the 10th straight season on Sunday, something no other Buccaneers receiver has ever come close to accomplishing. He’s not chasing any franchise records, though, he’s simply setting them as Evans closes in on passing Jerry Rice for the most consecutive 1,000 yard seasons in NFL history.
Rice rolled through 11 straight seasons is 1,000 yards, a milestone that Evans is just two years away from passing. No disrespect to Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jameis Winston but he’s done it all with subpar quarterback play. As Evans continues to set marks that could remain untouchable in Buccaneers franchise history for quite some time, he’s carving out a case for himself to finish his career with a bust in Canton.
More than a few folks said that after the game, from Antoine Winfield Jr to Evans himself. His looming contract situation is a gently humming anxiety in the background of all that he’s doing, but for now it’s simply impossible to not pretend it’s not there and completely relish in everything Mike Evans continues to do for the Buccaneers.