Mike Evans rebounds with 100-yard game
Mike Evans returned to the forefront of the Bucs' offense in Sunday's 31-17 win over Carolina, recording his first 100-yard receiving game of the season, a strong way of rebounding from his one-catch performance last week in New Orleans.

Evans clearly was healthier. A nagging hamstring injury made the Bucs pick their spots sending him downfield in the loss at the Saints. And after missing a big chunk of practice over the previous two weeks, Evans was able to get more reps with Tom Brady in practice this week.

"And we just took what the defense gave us this week," Evans said. "There wasn't a lot of double teams this week, a lot of zone, and Tom was just picking it apart."

The result was a seven-catch, 104-yard, one-touchdown performance against a young Panthers secondary committed to playing single coverage on Evans. After seeing just six balls thrown his way in the opener, Evans was targeted 10 times, seven times in the first half.

"We've got to do that every week," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "We can't ever let Mike just sit still and be somewhere where everybody can double-cover him. Tom did a great job of finding him, especially deep down the middle."

Brady and Evans connected for the Bucs' longest offensive gain of the day, a 50-yard completion over the middle that set up Tampa Bay's first touchdown. On that play, Evans lined up in the slot — Arians said the Bucs had to move Evans around more — and Brady found him open despite good coverage.

Evans also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the first quarter to his back shoulder. "They covered that route great, but that throw was unbelievable, right in my stomach," Evans said. "I had no choice but to catch it. Ball placement was perfect. They gave me some good looks where I'd get some easy catches and Tom took advantage of it."

Evans had five catches for 91 yards in the first half, but just two for 13 in the second half. Asked to evaluate his day, Evans said, "I don't think I played that well. I think I played okay," but added he's feeling better physically, which is the best sign for him. "I'm still trying to get back into that midseason form," Evans said. "I was having a really great camp and then I had a hamstring injury. But the training staff has been doing a great job and I'm close to fully healthy, for sure."

Eduardo Encina, Tampa Bay Times, published 21 September 2020