It was the play of the year if you ask nearly any Bucs’ teammate.

On 3rd-and-10 with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter of Thursday Night’s 43-28 loss to the Falcons, Bucs’ receiver reeled a one-handed catch that rivaled Odell Beckham’s three-fingered grab in 2014.

On a pass thrown behind the third-year wideout, Evans leaped up, reached back and snagged the ball with his fingertips before tapping his feet in bounds.

What made the catch possibly more impressive than Beckham’s is that Evans then found the crown of Falcons defensive back Keanu Neal’s helmet driving through his upper body, rocketing him out of bounds and slamming him to the ground.

But Evans held on.

Photo: NFL Network and NBC

Photo: NFL Network and NBC

“It was amazing,” Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said of the grab. “People talk about Odell Beckham’s catch, while it was an amazing catch — he caught it with three fingers — Mike took a hit and kept the ball in that one hand. That’s impressive.”

The catch extended the drive, but didn’t lead to any points. But the effort Evans brings to the game every week is igniting a fire in his fellow receivers.

“As a receiver, that’s so tough going away from your body and bringing it in one handed and then taking the hit after,” receiver Adam Humphies said. “It’s always fun seeing your teammates make plays. When you see him make that one-handed grab, it makes you want to go out their and make a play too.”

Evans’ one-handed catch wasn’t the only highlight in his 11-catch, 150-yard prime-time performance.

With 8:35 to go in the first half , the Bucs down six points, Winston threw up a heave that has become all too familiar when Evans is down field. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver snatched the pass over the head of a Falcons defender using only the strength of his hands for a 24-yard touchdown.

“He makes it look easy,” Humphries said. “He’s a smart kid, he knows the offense very well and it really helps having the physical attributes that he has, being able to go up and make some crazy plays.”

To Winston, however, Evans is just doing his job. And despite drawing frequent double teams from opposing secondaries, Evans continues to produce at an elite level.

“It sounds cliché, but that’s his job,” Winston said. “I need him to get open and everyone knows he’s one our main targets. Mike knows he’s our main guy, but that’s just his heart and fight inside of him that, ‘I gotta get open.’”

It’s no secret who the Bucs are going to target — Evans leads the league with 103 targets, 13 more than the next receiver — but there’s no disputing the production, even with a lack of firepower on offense.

Evans leads the league in touchdowns (8) and catches for first downs (46). He also ranks fifth in receiving yards (745).

Evans is on pace to eclipse his 2015 yardage total by 200 yards and has already caught five more touchdowns in eight games than he did in all of last season.

As of now, he’s the focal point of the Bucs’ offense, but Winston and Co. are hoping his play begins to open up room for other players on offense to contribute.

“When your superstars are making plays for you, it gives everyone else around an extra boost of confidence,” Winston said. “Like, ‘If Mike’s doing it, I can do it.’ But it’s an overall team thing; the more we can get people playing up to Mike’s level, man, it’s gonna be scary.”

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About the Author: Jacob Hoag

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5 years ago

Not bad Jacob, but lets not leave out Winston nor the RB’s which has helped Evans to get open.

5 years ago

Just imagine if we had a pass catching TE (OJ Howard/Bama or Evan Engram/Ole Miss) and another V-jax (Mike Williams/Clemson or Corey Davis/W. Mich.).

Looking at the sunset at the beach, just an old man and his dreams! lol.

Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I would love to see John Ross on this team

Reply to  Matthew
5 years ago

John Ross III/Washington, another great choice!

5 years ago

That was one fantastic catch! Mike is quickly becoming an elite receiver who is nearly unstoppable. Sure would be nice to have a partner or two in the mold of the great Kevin House and Jimmie Giles.