Bucs star wide receiver Mike Evans‘ hamstring injury in the second quarter didn’t slow down Mayfield either in the team’s 26-9 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, October 1. Mayfield said he noticed Evans’ absence in a different way.
“Obviously not having Mike there, it was a little bit less of a drama, but there was still some trash talk going back and forth,” Mayfield told reporters after the game. “You love it. It’s a passionate rivalry whether they want to say it or not, but it’s a physical game when we play New Orleans.”
Mayfield, who is known to be vocal, then got questioned by ESPN’s Jenna Laine if he contributed to the trash talking. Evans caught three passes for 40 yards against rival Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore before exiting the game.
“I plead the fifth,” Mayfield said with a smile.
Talk aside, Mayfield made due without Evans for more than half of the game, going 25-32 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns versus an interception. Mayfield threw touchdowns to wide receivers Deven Thompkins and Trey Palmer plus tight end Cade Otton instead of Evans or fellow star wideout Chris Godwin.
“Obviously unfortunate to lose Mike during the game but our young guys are playing well,” Mayfield said.
Thompkins caught four passes for 45 yards, and Palmer finished with six yards on two catches.
Otton tallied three receptions for 13 yards, and running back Rachaad White chipped in three catches for 22 yards. White also fared better in the running game with 56 yards on 15 carries after a 38-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3.
Tampa Bay also had a big day from Godwin, who tallied eight catches for 114 yards, including a 42-yard gain.
Baker Mayfield Avoids a Scare
Mayfield’s 4-yard touchdown to Otton in the second quarter put the Bucs ahead to stay after a 3-0 deficit for most of the first half. That play nearly broke down as Mayfield got wrapped up by Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan followed by an additional hit to the quarterback.
“It was pretty scary,” Mayfield said. “Just getting pinned down, those scary moments, a late hit coming on top of that. Luckily it wasn’t worse than it was, so I thank God for that. Cade presented a good little check down right there in front of me, and he was able to make a play right after that.”
Mike Evans Remains in Doubt After Hot Start
Evans didn’t have as much fortune when injured his hamstring a play after a 5-yard reception. He started the game aggressively with an 18-yard catch from Mayfield.
“I was just taking advantage of our one-on-ones. Just trusting our guys,” Mayfield said about the 18-yard connection.
Bucs head coach Todd Bowles had no update on Evans’ hamstring afterward. The Bucs fortunately have a bye week coming, which could allow Evans enough time to heal and avoid missing the next game against the Detroit Lions (3-1) in Week 6.
Evans leads the Bucs in receiving with 17 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns this season.