Richard Sherman, Seattle’s 6-foot-3, All-Pro cornerback, regularly shuts down even the most prolific receivers in the NFL. That was not the case on Sunday.
With eight receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Bucs 14-5 win over the Seahawks, Mike Evans appeared as the clear winner in the battle of elites on the outside. This was Evans’ 12th career 100-yard day – fourth this season – but this one, against one of his favorite defensive players of all time, meant a little more.
“Looking back at interviews I’ve done, they’d ask you, ‘Who do you want to face?” Evans said in the locker room after the game. “And I always said Richard Sherman. When I got into the league, I had to simmer down a little. I couldn’t be a fan.”
After getting his opportunity, Evans said the matchup was what he expected. While Sherman, playing in Seattle’s zone-based scheme, didn’t cover him on every snap, he followed the Bucs 6-foot-5 receiver for most of the game. That didn’t intimidate Evans, who became just the fourth receiver in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards in his first three seasons.
“I knew all his moves, the way his big back pedals and the way he turns his hips,” said Evan, who joins Randy Moss, A.J. Green and John Jefferson. “It was tough some plays. He’s long. But they’re a zone team and we knew the looks that we were going to get, and coach Dirk called a great game.”
Especially in the first quarter, as Tampa Bay came out firing on all cylinders. Evans caught all four targets on the first two drives, including a 26-yard gain on third-and-12 and a touchdown on third-and-goal. His 23-yard score to cap off the Bucs second drive, however, was the catch that summed up the highly anticipated showdown.
Evans walked a few reporters through the second touchdown in the locker afterward.
“It was man-to-man. He was right there and jabbed me with his inside hand,” he said, adding that Sherman told him post game that the TD was a great play, despite complaining to refs at the time. “I grabbed him and pulled through on him.
“That’s what you want,” Evans said of single coverage. “Being one of the best in the world, you want to go against one of the best in the world – one-on-one, man-on-man.”
Jameis Winston, for good measure, was asked about Mike Evans at his press conference. Often referring to Evans as his “superstar,” Winston said he never understands why anyone would be surprised that he trusts his No. 1 target and is always looking to get him the ball.
“Ya’ll always ask me why throw Mike the ball so much. I never understand those questions,” Winston said. “He just played an amazing game today. That’s just the type of guy that he is and that’s the type of player he is. Thank God for coach Koetter putting me in situations to get him the ball.
“Mike Evans is elite,” Winston said. “I say that every week. It’s just a testament that hard work pays off. We worked hard this offseason. He, in particular, worked very hard this offseason. It’s really paying off.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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