Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans made history on Sunday in a play he’ll remember for a long time. It’s the play that happened right afterward that he’ll probably want to forget.
With time expiring in the first quarter of the game against the Atlanta Falcons, Evans cut towards the middle of the end zone in an attempt to catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady. However, his foot snagged the turf, hyper-extending his knee, and causing him to muff the catch and fall to the ground in pain. He needed to be helped off the field as he had a hard time putting weight on the leg and was later ruled out from returning to the game.
Here’s the Mike Evans injury. Slipped on some shoddy turf. pic.twitter.com/dsg7ZbtPAv
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 3, 2021
Mike Evans was helped off of the field and went to the locker room after a non contact injury in the end zone. pic.twitter.com/0zrEC33krL
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 3, 2021
The injury immediately throws Evans’ ability to play in the Buccaneers’ upcoming playoff game into doubt, which would be a huge blow given his impact on the offense.
To wit, just one play earlier, Evans caught a 20-yard pass to put him over 1,000 receiving yards on the season. He’s made that mark in all of his first seven seasons in the NFL, which he is the only receiver to have ever accomplished.
History just made.
Mike Evans caught on this big catch.
7 straight seasons with 1,000 yards.
He dropped a touchdown on the next play and got injured. pic.twitter.com/FLrhsKNBjq
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 3, 2021
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans just became the first player in NFL History with seven straight 1,000+ yard receiving seasons to begin his career. Dominant force.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 3, 2021
While it was great for Evans to hit that benchmark, it may have come at a cost of the playoffs. Adding further insult to injury, the game today wasn’t overwhelmingly important for the Bucs. They had already qualified for the playoffs and are jockeying for either the fifth or sixth seed depending on how things shake out today. They’re on pace to beat the lowly Falcons, but the cost involved might not feel entirely worth it.
Not only could Tampa be without their top target in the playoffs but the lack of a weapon like Evans changes the way defenses plan for the Bucs. What might have involved double-teams and shadow coverages to protect themselves from Evans might not be required, which could cause problems for Brady and the rest of the receiving corps.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians also tempted the karma gods last week when he said he had hoped Evans would have clinched the record then so he could sit him this week.