ORLANDO -— For Bucs fans frustrated to see WR Mike Evans on the sidelines throughout Sunday's Pro Bowl, don't be angry at NFC coach Jason Garrett.
Evans, who barely played and was not targeted once in the NFC's 20-13 loss to the AFC, said after the game that he was "a little banged up" but still enjoyed his first Pro Bowl experience.
"I still wanted to come out here and experience this Pro Bowl. It was off the chain," Evans said on the field after the game. "The fans showed mad love; it was a great experience and hopefully I'm blessed enough to get back here."
Evans played early in the game but didn't have a pass thrown his way, and didn't play in the second half, watching from the sidelines as the NFC and teammate Gerald McCoy came up just short in a 20-13 loss.
Evans wouldn't elaborate on his injury, but said it's nothing that would keep him from taking part in minicamps and OTAs this spring once he's rested up a bit.
"I'm a little dinged up. I wanted to play a few plays to get the experience," he said. "We have a lot of great guys and I trusted them. I didn't feel like I was ready to go full-go. Just some rest and chilling with the family."
McCoy had a sack and four tackles, the most he's had in his five Pro Bowls, but still was disappointed to see the NFC come up short.
McCoy pointed to the hustle on a play in the final minute of the game as proof the game still means something to the players involved, even the difference between a $64,000 winner's share and the $32,000 players from the losing team get. Down seven points, the NFC got to the AFC 19-yard line, only to see Kirk Cousins get intercepted at the 2-yard line by Denver's Lorenzo Alexander, who then lateraled to teammate Aqib Talib.
Cousins though ran Talib down at the NFC 15-yard line — 66 yards from where the play started — and forced a fumble, but Talib recovered it to seal the win.
"We had a chance to win it at the end," McCoy said. "We played hard. I think Mike (Evans) had a good time. I know I had a good time. At the end, the money was on the line, and then pride kicks in and guys don't want to embarrass themselves. They want to show why they're here. I think the level of play was good."
McCoy said he was proud of his sack — "any sack you can get, whether it's practice, whenever, always feels good" — but he's glad to be able to take a break now and rest his body as he gears up for the 2017 season.
"I'm about to go lay down," he said. "My foot is hurting. My back is hurting. My shoulder hurts. My hands are freezing. I am done."
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.