By Brandon C Williams
LAST SUNDAY wasn’t the kind of homecoming Mike Evans had in mind. With family and friends helping to fill Houston’s NRG stadium, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver and former Galveston Ball two-sport standout left with an incomplete feeling following a 19-9 loss to Houston Texans.
Evans, who had missed much of the season’s first two games with hamstring issues, had seven receptions for 101 yards, yet also had a couple of drops that hindered the Buccaneers’ chances. Ever the pro, however, he stood tall and faced the music afterward, putting much of the team’s failures at his 6ft 5in doorstep.
“It started with me,” he said. “Essentially, my first game back … I put it on me. There were a lot of plays I should have made on third down that I didn’t come up with.
Galveston Ball graduate and Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans tries to escape the attentions of Texans corner back Kevin Johnson during last weekend’s NFL game at the NRG stadium
“The offense played great, but it was up to me to make a couple of plays that would have put us over the hump.”
Evans’ hamstring problems began late in training camp, forcing him to miss Tampa’s final preseason game along with the season opener against the Tennessee Titans and much of the Buccaneers’ win over New Orleans Saints.
The second-year pro, who played collegiately at Texas A&M, said the fact he was playing in Houston really didn’t sink in until after the game.
“When the game starts, everything goes out,” he said. “I just become ‘Football Mike’. It really didn’t register in my mind.”
Evans, above, had an opportunity to score in the second half but a pass from Jameis Winston was broken up by Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph in the back of the end zone on play some thought should have been a pass interference call. The former Tor shook off the thought and felt that, while a flag could have been called, Joseph deserved credit for making a big play.
The officials went against Evans in the first half, as he was called for offensive pass interference that wiped out a long reception that would have put the Buccaneers inside Texans territory.
He had a career-high 17 passes thrown in his direction and, while he put much of the blame on himself for the team’s loss, the fact that Buccaneers kicker Kyle Brindza missed three field goals and an extra point, along with the team’s inability to convert third downs, were equally costly as Tampa cashed in just once on 12 third-down attempts.
“We’ll look at the film and move on to the next game,” the stoic Evans said, referring to Tampa’s home game against Carolina Panthers today, Sunday.