NEW ORLEANS — On the first play of Sunday’s 26-9 win over the Saints, receiver Mike Evans beat Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for an 18-yard reception.
But the most anticipated man-to-man matchup, the heated one with Lattimore that has resulted in Evans being suspended twice and fined more than $100,000, never materialized Sunday.
Evans left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring strain and never returned, finishing with three catches for 40 yards.
But that didn’t mean things got easier for Lattimore and the Saints defense.
Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes, including one each to rookie Trey Palmer and second-year pro Deven Thompkins.
“Just taking advantage of our one-on-ones,” Mayfield said. “Just trusting our guys. I think you saw that in the game and obviously it was unfortunate to lose Mike during the game, but our young guys played well. I think you saw that first-hand.”
It was the second touchdown of the season for Palmer, the rookie from Nebraska who was taken in the sixth round. He had two TD receptions in the preseason.
Thompkins’ score, a 5-yard pass that put the game away with 3:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, was the first scoring reception of his career. He was second on the team Sunday with four catches for 45 yards, including a 26-yarder.
“That’s what we do,” Thompkins said. “Production doesn’t go down whenever our big two, like when Chris (Godwin) and Mike (Evans) go out, we understand that we have to step up when it comes down to that. We’re ready in every single way.”
Thompkins’ TD, in which he fought to get in the end zone, was the result of Mayfield buying time in the pocket on a scramble drill.
“It was good,” Thompkins said. “You know, we worked the scramble drill. We always preach about keeping up the energy. So just keep running and then me and Baker locked eyes and he just went ahead and threw it.”
The Bucs also were fortunate that even with Evans out of the game, they could lean even more on Godwin. He led the Bucs with a season-high eight catches for 114 yards.
It was the 19th time Godwin went over 100 receiving yards in a game during his career, second only in club history to Evans, who has 34.
“To be honest, it doesn’t change my role too much,” Godwin said of Evans leaving the game. “I think more than anything else it provides opportunities for some of the young guys in the room and they did a phenomenal job of stepping up and making the plays that came their way. It was no surprise to us or anybody on the team. ...
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“(Thompkins) is one of the more explosive guys I’ve ever been around. Day in and day out, he does some things and I look at him like, ‘That’s just D.T. stuff.’ ”
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