ATLANTA ― Mike Evans made history but Chris Godwin made the Falcons pay in the Bucs’ 35-22 win in at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Godwin had seven catches for a career-high 184 yards, including touchdowns of 71- and 1-yard. Meanwhile, Evans joined Randy Moss as the only players to eclipse 1,000-yards receiving in each of his first six seasons to start a career with his 17-yard reception in the second quarter.
In fact, for only the second time in team history, the Bucs had two receivers go over the 1,000-yard mark in the same season as Evans and Godwin accomplished that Sunday.
The only other time they did it is when Evans and Vincent Jackson each had more than 1,000-yards in 2014.
Evans and Godwin are the most prolific tandem of receivers in the NFL this season and they showed why against a porous Falcons secondary.
But Atlanta came into the game as a hot defense, having not allowed a touchdown in wins over the Saints and Panthers.
With the Bucs trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Godwin had an amazing catch in traffic that he turned into a 71-yard touchdown.
Then Godwin gave the Bucs the lead for good in the second quarter with a one-handed grab of a pass from Jameis Winston for a touchdown on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Winston’s roller-coaster day
We’ll say it before Bruce Arians does. On his first pass of the game, Winston threw an interception to Desmond Trufant. The pass was not Winston’s fault. Evans was the intended target and he didn’t run a good route, allowing Trufant to undercut him.
The second interception, however, was vintage Winston.
Under pressure, he tried a jump pass that was behind running back Dare Ogunbowale, deflected in the air and intercepted by Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell at the Tampa Bay 19 yard line. That set up a touchdown for the Falcons.
But that’s what you get with Winston.
He was awful. Then he was brilliant, sometimes in the same play.
His TD pass to Godwin may have been ill-advised by somehow he squeezed it between two Falcons defenders.
Nonetheless, Winston has a career-high 20 interceptions on the season. In fact, he became only the second player in 20 years with 20 interceptions in 11 team games. Jay Cutler did it with the Bears in 2009.
Winston finished 18 of 28 passing for 313 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. It was his sixth straight 300-yard passing game of the season, a team record.
Big day for Carlton Davis
Cornerback Carlton Davis had not had an interception in his first 21 NFL games, 20 of them starts.
He had two nullified by penalty earlier this season at Seattle.
But the second-year starter from Auburn had a career day against the Falcons. In addition to getting his first NFL interception when he wrestled the football away from Calvin Ridley, he had a career-high five passes defensed.
Bucs rookie linebacker Devin White is playing much better of late. His speed is back after recovering from a knee injury. On Sunday, White added something to his game. He had two sacks of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Vita Vea made his debut on offense as a lead blocker at tight end for a touchdown run by Peyton Barber against the Cardinals two weeks ago.
On Sunday, Vea lined up in the backfield as a fullback and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Winston late in the second half. It was Winston’s third TD pass but the first for Vea, who also played running back in high school.
Vea also had a sack of quarterback Matt Ryan.
Tough kicking day for Gay
Since his game-losing miss of a 34-yard field goal against the Giants in Week 3, rookie Matt Gay had been cruising along, making 18 of 20 field goals. But on Sunday, he missed his first two extra-point attempts wide left and had a third one blocked.
Ndamukong Suh got his second touchdown of the season Sunday when Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Matt Ryan, forcing the ball loose, and Suh returned it for a touchdown.
Suh had a scoop and score against the Los Angeles Rams earlier this season. Suh becomes just the second player in team history with two defensive fumble recoveries for a touchdown in the same season, joining Ronde Barber, who did it in 2004.
The Bucs had six sacks of Ryan Sunday.