Mike Evans’ MRI came back on Sunday after hyperextending his left knee against the Atlanta Falcons, impacting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ postseason plans.
Fox 13’s Kevin O’Donnell reported via Twitter that Evans’ MRI didn’t show any ligament damage, as first confirmed by FOX NFL Sunday’s Jay Glazer. The Bucs top receiver was taken to get an MRI after injuring his knee in the first quarter of the team’s 44-27 win in Week 17.
Head coach Bruce Arians seemed optimistic about the outcome during his postgame press conference on Sunday.
“We don’t think there’s any serious damage,” Arians said. “We’ll know more in the next 24 hours.”
The Bucs may even play Evans in the NFC Wild Card round next Saturday, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Injury Result of ‘Really Slick’ Turf
Evans injured his knee while going for a catch in the end zone in the first half, slipping on the Raymond James Stadium sod as he crossed toward the middle of the field.
After the game, Arians also blamed the slippery surface, which took a beating from the Outback Bowl the day before, as noted by WBZ’s Michael Hurley.
“The turf was really slick in the end zones,” Arians said. “Just a freaky thing. It (the turf) just blew out from underneath him.”
After Evans’ injury, ESPN’s Jenna Laine then broke the news of the three-time Pro Bowler getting an MRI.
In what the Tampa Bay Times called a “bizarre two-play sequence,” Evans on the previous play became the first receiver in NFL history to notch 1,000 yards in each of his first seven seasons. The 27-year-old passed Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who had six 1,000-yard seasons to start his career from 1998-2003.
“It meant the world for him to get that record,” Arians said postgame.
Tampa’s Options if Evans Sits
Down their top receiving threat, Tampa Bay’s offense made do without Evans in the season finale. Quarterback Tom Brady threw touchdown passes to receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin in the first half, before finding Brown and Godwin again in the fourth quarter. The NFC South runner ups never punted while Evans’ teammates lit up the Falcons secondary.
Brady and company will miss Evans as the quarterback called him “consistent” and “dependable” during his postgame press conference. Arians said they have plenty of depth, with or without Evans, referencing Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. Both caught touchdowns from Brady this season.
“We’ve got weapons. Obviously, Mike is special,” Arians said. “It’s going to take two guys to replace him for sure if he’s not there.”
Additionally, the Bucs have Brady under center. The 43-year-old veteran finished the game with 399 yards and four touchdowns, and the regular season with a franchise-record 40 touchdowns, the best mark ever by a quarterback in their first year with a new team.
“We’ve got to keep it going,” Brady said in the postgame press conference. “It comes down to one game.”
Bucs Playoff Matchup
Winners of four straight, the Bucs locked up the NFC’s No. 5 seed with the win over Atlanta and will hit the road in the NFC Wild Card round next Saturday to face the No. 4 seeded Washington Football Team (7-9). Washington claimed the NFC East division title on Sunday night with a 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Saturday will also mark Tampa Bay’s first postseason contest in 13 seasons, dating back to January 6, 2008 when the Jon Gruden-led club lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the Wild Card round, 24-14.