Evans on last loss to Saints: 'We got the No. 1 pick'
As the Bucs play host to the Saints in their second meeting of the season, Tampa Bay can appreciate how much was gained by losing to the Saints in Week 17 last year, thus clinching the No. 1 pick of the draft, which was used on quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Bucs led 20-7 in the fourth quarter, in position to lose the No. 1 pick to the Titans, but the Saints would outscore them 16-0 in the final period, including a go-ahead touchdown with 1:57 left and a safety as fans cheered the loss at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans was asked Wednesday if the team was trying to win that game: "I was trying my hardest to win the game," said Evans, who caught his 12th touchdown of his rookie season in the second quarter. "We didn't get the job done, but we got the No. 1 pick. Great player."
Evans, of course, didn't play at all in the second half of that game -- he had missed a total of 20 offensive plays in the previous six games combined -- and linebacker Lavonte David, who played every defensive snap in 10 of his other 13 games and missed one snap in another, also got the entire second half off. Evans said he didn't play "because I was gassed," while David only said it was a decision made by the coaches.
They weren't the only players who were on the sidelines in the second half. Backups played on the offensive line, the Bucs attempted only three passes in the second half, and receiver Tavarres King had his first NFL catch -- and an illegal touch penalty on a last-minute onsides kick attempt. Three defensive players signed late in the season -- CB C.J. Wilson, LB Jason Williams and DE Lawrence Sidbury -- had zero tackles on defense entering the game and combined for seven against the Saints.
That loss left the Bucs 0-6 in division play for the season, but as the Saints come to town Sunday, Tampa Bay is 3-1 in the NFC South, coming off a season sweep of the Falcons and in position to do the same against New Orleans.