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Buccaneers Wild Card Top Performers: Mike Evans shoots some skeet

Tampa’s veteran receiver stood out as a dominant force as the Bucs routed Philadelphia.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

During the lean years in the mid-2010s, Mike Evans largely stood out as the only bright spot for Bucs fans week in and week out.

He was a bonafide No. 1 in a position room full of mediocrity, but that hasn’t been as true recently with stud players like Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Some people forgot how dominant he could be, and several doubted his ability to compensate for the loss of those aforementioned teammates.

Well, he put those concerns to bed with authority on Sunday, as Evans headlined a dominant overall effort from the No. 2 seeded Buccaneers as they demolished the No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles, 31-15.

Evans didn’t do it alone, as we have several players to shout out for the victory.

Offensive Top Performer: WR Mike Evans

In Tampa’s Week 6 win over the Eagles, Evans produced a quiet evening with just 2 catches for 27 yards. He took a back seat to more fruitful evenings from Brown, Leonard Fournette and even O.J. Howard.

A much different story unfolded on a bigger stage, with Evans logging 9 catches on 10 targets for 117 yards and a touchdown. The one catch he missed was a perfectly defended ball in the end zone that he still almost hauled in, so yeah pretty “decent” day from M1K3. (In his own words, but fans might have more glowing adjectives.)

It only gets tougher from here, but this type of outing is what you need to see from your undisputed No. 1.

Of course, Thomas Edward Brady gets his props for orchestrating precision surgery on the Eagles once again. The numbers weren’t gaudy, nor was that expected, but Brady tallied up an efficient 29 completions on 37 attempts for 271 yards and 2 tuddies.

And finally, Gio Bernard gets a long overdue mention. He didn’t provide the oomph most expected on third downs or passing situations in the regular season, but he massively stepped up with Fournette and Ronald Jones out due to injury. Bernard racked up 83 total yards on 18 touches (13 carries and 5 catches) and found the end zone. His volume will likely shrink when Fournette comes back, but he proved he’s still a versatile players who deserves snaps.

Defensive Top Performer: S Mike Edwards

We’ll immediately clarify that the entire defense dictated the outcome of this game. The unit played lights out for three quarters, with only a couple garbage-time TDs marring an otherwise perfect day.

One player has to receive this honor, and we’ll hand it to Edwards. Without Sean Murphy-Bunting, Edwards assumed nickel duties for the most part and played well like he usually does.

Edwards led the team in tackles with 9, and more importantly he made a clutch, touchdown-saving interception late in the second quarter to preserve the first-half shutout. He made an outstanding break on the ball once he noticed Jamel Dean fell done in coverage, which left DeVonta Smith wide open in the endzone.

The entire safety room played exceptional. Jordan Whitehead played like a human missile around the line of scrimmage like usual, making multiple plays in the run game en route to 6 tackles. Meanwhile, Antoine Winfield Jr. made it back-to-back weeks with a sack.

Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis both played excellent on the outside, with the latter having two near-interceptions. Speaking of interceptions, even the returning Shaq Barrett got involved when he tipped a pass to himself.

Special Teams Top Perfomer: Gunner Scotty Miller

Scooter’s playing time remains nominal on offense, but he’s remained a motivated player on special teams and has made an impact on that unit.

It was especially pronounced on Sunday, as Miller caused a fumble on a muffed punt from Jalen Reagor and set up a scoring opportunity for the offense. Even more impressive, he came from the opposite side of the field to make the play, utilizing that blistering speed of his.

He flashed multiple times during the game and garnered praise from Bruce Arians in his postgame news conference.