- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans spent Saturday night watching ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary on his favorite wideout, Randy Moss.

Evans applied what he learned on Sunday afternoon, catching seven balls for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-7 Buccaneers victory over the Washington Redskins.

In Tampa Bay’s second win of the season, the former Texas A&M standout etched his name in history. He became the first rookie receiver to string together three straight performances of at least 100 receiving yards and one touchdown since Moss did it in 1998.

The 21-year-old also became the youngest player to rack up 200 receiving yards in a game, as well as the fifth rookie in the Super Bowl era to record 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a game.

“I’ve been around the league a while and I haven’t been around one [rookie] that has been able to do the things [Evans] has done,” said Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, who has worked in the NFL since 1996.

Evans, who Tampa Bay selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, finished seven yards away from tying the Buccaneers‘ single-game receiving yards record, 216, set by Vincent Jackson in 2012.

Jackson, a 10-year vet, is making more money than Evans, but the 6-foot-5, 231 pound rookie has become Tampa Bay’s go-to receiver in November. After failing to eclipse the 80-yard or five-catch mark through his first six games of the season, Evans is averaging seven receptions, 152.7 receiving yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game since the start of the month.

“That dude is incredible,” Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “He’s just special. We’ll leave it at that, he’s special.”

Both of Evans‘ end-zone celebrations and 140 of his yards came in the second half, which sealed the rare triumph for Tampa Bay.

Evans blew by Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland to score his first touchdown off a 36-yard lob from Josh McCown with 4:36 left in the third quarter. Washington safety Ryan Clark blamed himself for the play that put Tampa Bay up 20-7, calling it a “mental lapse.”

“I was supposed to help Breeland over the top there,” Clark said. “And when you don’t do your job in the NFL, people find it.”

Evans found Breeland and channeled is inner Moss, telling McCown as he motioned across the formation to “just throw it up.”

“The swagger [Moss] plays with — you know, he has fun with the game, so I try to do that and model that,” Evans said.

His second touchdown came even easier. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, he found Washington linebacker Perry Riley across from him.

“Oh, man,” Evans said. “Yeah, it happened earlier in the game, but [McCown] threw it to V-Jax for a first down. That’s cool, but it happened again, and Josh found it.”

On a 56-yard bomb.

Washington coach Jay Gruden said a breakdown in the Redskins‘ blitz package was responsible for the wide receiver-linebacker mismatch on the play.

“… [To] watch a deep ball with the linebacker running down the middle looks really bad from a schematic standpoint,” Gruden said. “Great job by Josh McCown, and nice job by Evans, and poor play design by us.”

Evans recorded more yards than any opposing receiver had on the Redskins‘ secondary all year — more than the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant and the Houston Texans’ Andre Johnson. Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles had reeled in eight balls for 154 yards and a touchdown on Sept. 21, but Evans‘ performance blew Maclin’s away.

Analysts weighed last week whether Evans‘ abnormally massive frame for a wideout could cause the smaller Redskins‘ defensive backs problems. It did.

“When you play that physical style, you win some, you lose some,” Breeland said. “And that’s what happened tonight.”


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