The moment after Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans hyperextended his left knee in the Week 17 win over the Atlanta Falcons, he was actually mad at himself.
"I had a wide-open touchdown," Evans said Wednesday. "I felt my leg slip a little bit, but I was just focused on the ball. I felt a pinch but I was just trying to focus on catching the ball. It was tough."
Once the play was over, Evans quickly realized why he felt a pinch in his lower leg.
"I was upset with myself that I didn't catch the ball so I was just trying to walk off real fast and then I felt it," Evans said when describing what happened. "It was in pretty bad condition. It was painful."
Evans did not return to the game and the Bucs did not yet know whether or not there was additional damage to his knee. Luckily for Evans, the MRI came back clean and he was able to play in the team's first playoff game since 2007.
"I dodged a bullet there with the hyperextension," Evan said. "[The] training staff did a great job. I got a lot of rest, a lot of praying and it worked out for me."
Evans ended up not only playing in the Wild Card matchup vs. the Washington Football Team but led the Bucs with six catches and 119 receiving yards in the game.
“It meant a lot," Evans said. "I haven’t been to the playoffs – it was my first time in the playoffs. I was excited to play, it was great weather [and] we had a great week of preparation. It just meant a lot to be out there and to try to make plays to help my team win."
On the play prior to his knee injury, Evans made history with a 20-yard catch, giving him at least 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh straight season. Evans became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 or more receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, passing Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, who did it in six straight seasons.
While Evans didn't hear from Moss in the time since breaking his record, he did get a lot of love from many others including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.
“I got a lot of love from a lot of my family, my friends and people that I care about," Evans said. "[Plus], a lot of people that I look up to – D. Wade, LeBron, and guys like that. That’s awesome – I’ll never be too big to not appreciate that. Like [those are] some of my childhood heroes and they’re paying homage and showing love to me. It means a lot."
Evans explained that Moss doesn't have to reach out to him even though he broke his record because he did so when Evans tied the record last season.
"Randy – he didn’t reach out to me this time, [but] last year he did. I know Randy – he’s a great guy, a hell of a player, and one of the best to ever do it," Evans said. "It is an awesome record and I’m proud of it.”
Evans was limited in practice Wednesday, according to the team's initial injury report for the NFC Divisional matchup vs. the New Orleans Saints, but he did share a positive message about his status.
"Hopefully, I can go into this game close to 100%," Evans said.