The Game Within The Game

November 7th, 2020

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Forget about Antonio Brown’s highly anticipated Buc debut for a moment. Let’s focus instead on a veteran wide receiver who can’t wait to torment the Saints Sunday evening.

At the midpoint of the season, it’s obvious that Mike Evans is having a bizarre year — disappointing in several ways when compared to his accomplished body of work.

Mike Evans

Perhaps the sight of Marshon Lattimore, a skillful and worthy adversary, will spur Evans to take over this prime-time affair while helping Tampa Bay take control of the NFC South.

There are many factors to account for Tampa Bay’s 4-game losing streak against New Orleans, but you can’t disregard the job Lattimore has done on Evans. In the past four matchups, Evans has nine catches for 156 yards and one touchdown.

That’s hardly the kind of production expected from the premier wide receiver in franchise history.

“Lattimore’s a good football player,” says Byron Leftwich. “I expect those guys to battle it out like they always do every time that I’ve been a part of this matchup. Those guys do a good job of getting after each other. It’s always good, fun, hard-nosed football. I believe he’s a really good football player, so I wouldn’t expect anything different from those guys on Sunday night.”

Lattimore entered the league in 2017 and he seems to relish this individual duel. Evans clearly got the best of him in the 2018 opener with seven receptions for 147 yards, including a 50-yard TD catch when he raced past Lattimore and hauled in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw during Tampa Bay’s stunning shootout victory.

The Evans-Lattimore rivalry was triggered midway through the 2017 season. An injured Jameis Winston taunted Lattimore from the sidelines and when Lattimore responded, Evans shoved him forcefully from behind, earning a one-game suspension without pay.

As the Saints look for a season-sweep against the Bucs, Lattimore hasn’t forgotten that rookie altercation.

“Just the history of, you know, what happened my first year and I just want to dominate, period,” Lattimore says. “It is what it is. I just want to go out there and compete, and win, dominate. I can’t get big headed about it. I still got to go in there like it’s my first game ever playing him. So I’m good with it, the history of what happened.”

Diminished Impact

Give Evans props for playing through pain this season. He has been hobbled, often unable to showcase his full skill set to Tom Brady. With 30 catches for 373 yards, it will take a big second half for Evans to continue his extraordinary streak of six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to begin his pro career.

Here’s one way to measure Evans’ diminished impact: He is averaging 46.6 yards per game, well off a career average (77.9) that ranks No. 7 in NFL history, ahead of Hall of Famers like Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Michael Irvin.

Touchdown maker

Still, he has reached the end zone seven times, including a 2-yard TD reception late in Tampa Bay’s 34-23 setback in Week 1. That was his only catch of the game.

“He (Lattimore) is a great player,” Evans said at the end of the 2017 season. “The ball just finds him. It’s going to be fun to play him again.”

The Bucs need a big game out of Evans Sunday night. Brown has barely had time to absorb a new playbook and Chris Godwin’s status remains uncertain. Brady’s playing at a high level and the timing seems right for a breakout game for No. 13.

But Mr. Lattimore stands in his way. He was asked if the presence of Evans brings out the best in him.

“No, I mean, I guess,” Lattimore said. “… … Like it was like a disrespectful thing, you know, that he did [in 2017]. But I get fired up with everybody. But yeah, I guess you could say.”

Evans will hit the field as a driven man. He can see the first playoff berth of his career dead ahead and a division crown within his massive reach.

Look out, Marshon.

Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape from Bill Currie Ford. It really is a sweet, luxurious ride.

17 Responses to “The Game Within The Game”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m getting the feeling that our TEs will have a monster game vs Saints…..especially Gronk…..
    Focus will be on WRs……TEs will burn Saints.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    @Lattimore … “Like it was like a disrespectful thing, you know, that he did [in 2017].”

    I agree with him; not the high point of Mike Evans’ career. I’m sure that he was just standing up for his QB when Lattimore responded to Winston’s taunting, but shoving him from behind wasn’t a good look. Still, that was 3 years ago, and both Evans & Lattimore were a lot younger then. They’ve both matured a bunch I’m sure.

  3. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Expect to see a lot of Marshon Lattimore on ME with AB doubled. I agree with TBBF, our TEs and 3rd WR get lots of catches. No defense can stop all of them.


  4. Defense Rules Says:

    TBBF … Agree with you about the TEs (good to see Antony Auclair finally get back in there with a couple of snaps Monday night). Also though think that the Saints are vulnerable against the short passing game using the RBs, and we’ve got the horsepower to capitalize.

    Saints have only lost 2 games so far, against the Raiders & Packers, 2 teams that we beat convincingly I thought. Both of those teams rushed for in the neighborhood of 100 yds using similar gameplans (45% run/55% pass ratio). In both cases, the Raiders & Packers owned the TOP also. It’ll be interesting to see what type of a gameplan BA & BL come up with. Hopefully it involves more than run-pass-pass-punt then wait for a turnover; New Orleans doesn’t turn it over very much at all (5 TOs in 7 games).

  5. Jason Says:

    My big fear is that Lattimore gets in Mike’s head and gets him ejected.

  6. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Someone is always able to get into ME13’s head.
    I doesn’t appear to be a hard thing to accomplish.

    Give me Godwin for the win!

  7. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Agreed. Lattimore rattles ME13 every time.

    Actually, ME gets rattled pretty easily by anyone… It’s really the only flaw in his game. That and the occasional iffy routes

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    Lets keep it real here. To hell with the comparisons. The Bucs need to win. If we go down 0-2 to these Saints, there is no way we can say we are the better team. They will own us. Just because we beat the pack and the raiders and they did not means nothing. Saints have developed quite a knack for winning close games. They specialize in it. Bucs have got to ball period.

  9. Buczilla Says:

    Mike’s a better receiver than Lattimore is a corner. Period. If Mike is at least 90% and keeps his head on straight, he will smoke punk @ss Lattimore.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Mike … Actually it’s HOW the Raiders & Packers beat them that we should learn from. Shows the Saints’ vulnerabilities?

  11. BringBucsBack Says:

    Some of you have commented on this but, ME13 needs to become mentally tougher and remain focused. If he accomplishes this, he will be an all time great. He is much too good to be shut down by anyone. Oh, & fight for YAC!!

  12. D1 Says:

    Actually it’s HOW the Raiders & Packers beat them that we should learn from. Shows the Saints’ vulnerabilities?
    Defense .

    Which are? I’m not seeing them !
    By chance did you list them somewhere else?

  13. stpetebucsfan Says:

    If Marshawn and ME get into another pissing contest I hope ME is just smart enough to not get caught with the last punch or shove. IF they both blow up and are BOTH kicked out of the game. big win Bucs.

    The drop-off from Lattimore…a very talented DB…to whomever is behind him is a LOT larger than the drop-off from ME13 to AB.

  14. RustyRhinos Says:

    My hope for the game on Sunday is that the coaches and the players and the front office have watched the entire last game of disrespect the entire Saints organization has put on display for their team again and again. I hope that the Saint’s disrespect has festered in every single Buccaneer player and coach to the point that it has become a very personal issue within this team. Bring the Saints to task about this disrespect on Sunday. The only way to Guarantee a Buccaneer 2020 Division Championship is to beat any and all who stand in the way. Saints are up next!
    Go! Bucs!

  15. orlbucfan Says:

    Aints always cheat and play dirty against Bucs. Godwin was concussed in a hit that should have been called in the 1st game of the season. Look at Payton’s coaching history. Kicked out of the league for cheating for a year. Bucs need to outplay refs, Payton and Aints. I hope BA and Bowles get it, and have them ready tomorrow night. Go Bucs!

  16. FirstTimePoster Says:

    Mike Johnson Says:
    November 7th, 2020 at 9:57 am
    Lets keep it real here. To hell with the comparisons. The Bucs need to win. If we go down 0-2 to these Saints, there is no way we can say we are the better team.

    Bucs lost twice to the Saints leading up to the Super Bowl win. This is a better team. Defense is close to ’02 but the offense is miles ahead.

  17. Mike Johnson Says:

    Ok 1st time poster. The truth is in the pudding. I like your spirit. but spirit don’t win games. Go down 0-2 in your own division against a team who will have a better record than you when they beat you? I know who you voted for in the election LOL