Bucs’ veteran wideouts feast in Big Easy
Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards on 21-of-28 passing and was a perfect 12-for-12 on throws to veteran wideouts Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Evans caught seven passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, while Jackson hauled in five for 146 yards and two scores before leaving with a concussion.
Head coach Dick Koetter noted the duos’ success winning battles against the New Orleans corners.
“They won a lot,” Koetter said of the pair catching all 12 throws. “It’s very unusual for that to be that high of a number. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a game where it was that [high]. It’s not like it’s an unusually high number of attempts — 12 is not an unusually high number — but to hit them all 12 of those times is pretty unusual.
“I thought DeSean and Mike both have really practiced hard leading up to this point and worked on things that we knew were going to come up in this game.”
The pair each produced a touchdown catch of 50 yards or more, 58 for Jackson and 50 for Evans. The last time Tampa Bay had two passing touchdowns of 50-plus yards in one game was in 1998 against Green Bay when Bert Emanuel (62 yards) and Jacquez Green (64 yards) were the receivers.
Koetter was particularly happy for Jackson, who had only three touchdown receptions last season and a long gain of 41 yards. He caught 50 passes and averaged a career-low 13.4 yards per catch. The head coach echoed comments from Fitzpatrick that it can players a season to adjust to a new team.
“I think there’s def something to that in DeSean’s case,” he said. “I mean I think every situation is different for certain.
“I think we’ve covered this several times that in DeSean’s case, we didn’t’ do a good enough job of giving DeSean chances to show what he could do last year. We didn’t put the ball where he could make plays. We did a lot better job of that yesterday and he showed up.”
Koetter did not provide an update on Jackson’s condition during his Monday press conference.
And what of the man who threw those passes to Evans and Jackson.
“He’s a down to earth guy. He’s got a great sense of humor,” Koetter said of his quarterback. “He’s witty, he’s intelligent, he’s well spoken, He backs up what he says with how he plays. And the players respect him. He doesn’t try to come to strong but at the same time he’s a good leader.”
— WR Mike Evans notched his 14th career 100-yard receiving game, matching Kevin House for the second-most in team history.
— WR DeSean Jackson now has 27 career touchdowns of 50-plus yards, tied with Hall of Famers Lance Alworth and Terrell Owens for third most since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
— QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finished Sunday’s game 21-of-28 for 417 yards (14.89 yards per attempt) with four touchdowns and no interceptions, for a passer rating of 156.2. He also added 36 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His 156.2 passer rating is the second-highest single game mark in team history.
— K Chandler Catanzaro was busy in his Bucs debut, hitting 2 of 3 field goals and converting all six extra points.
— RB Peyton Barber carried 19 times for 69 yards, with a long of 23 yards.