Bucs’ Evans hurts knee a play after setting mark

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TAMPA, Fla. — In a cruel twist of fate on the next play after becoming the first NFL player to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans suffered a left knee injury, putting his status for the playoffs in jeopardy.

After being examined at Raymond James Stadium, Evans was taken to get an MRI, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

With 24 seconds to go in the first quarter, the three-time Pro Bowler cut inside to catch what would have been a 10-yard touchdown pass and hyperextended his left knee, with the ball and Evans both falling to the ground. He sat for several seconds writhing in pain before being helped off the field, unable to put any weight on his left leg. He was taken to the locker room in a cart and later was ruled out for the game.

A play earlier, the scoreboard flashed “1,000” along with the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 — all the years Evans finished with 1,000 receiving yards.

Evans needed 40 yards for the record Sunday, and he caught a 20-yard pass from Tom Brady to make it 46, with fans quickly jumping to their feet.

With 10 wins, the Bucs had already clinched a playoff spot heading into Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons but are fighting for the fifth playoff seed. Coach Bruce Arians said last week that he was hoping Evans could have clinched the record then so he could sit him in Week 17.

Now his status going forward is uncertain. Evans has been the Bucs’ No. 1 wide receiver for the past several years, frequently drawing the attention of opposing defenses with shadow coverage and double coverage. He’s also been arguably Brady’s most valuable target in the quarterback’s first year in Tampa Bay, catching a team-leading 13 touchdown passes.

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