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Mike Evans may have cost Bucs by losing his cool. But defense bailed them out. | Opinion

NEW ORLEANS Never mind that his team might use his skill and can in a good game. Mike Evans saw Leonard Fournettes head snap back throughout a kerfuffle early in the fourth quarter at a raucous Caesars Superdome on Sunday and quickly decided he needed to take action.

Evans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star receiver, knew that the wideouts corps was depleted by injury. Knew that the Bucs had lost seven consecutive regular-season games contrary to the SAINTS. Knew that as arguably the very best receiver in the stadium, he will make an improvement at crunch time.

Yet Evans took a running start and went after Marshon Lattimore anyway, escalating a mini-brawl that led to the ejections of both players.

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Guess what happens they state. Football can be an emotional game.

I’ll never let nobody do my teammates like this, Evans explained following the Bucs claimed a 20-10 victory. I’ll will have their back, regardless of what.

Since it proved, the Bucs (2-0) could win this time around with no Evans for the majority of the ultimate quarter. They are able to thank the big-play defense that in the ultimate 12 minutes following the skirmish picked off Jameis Winston 3 x and in addition took the football away on a fumble to lay the track to the big win.

There is even much talk in the visitors locker room concerning the jolt the Bucs received following the incident, as though a switch was fired up. Maybe so. Remember, emotional game. If the Bucs gained a supplementary edge following the fighting, theyll go on it.

But losing Evans at a spot in the overall game where it might have gone in any event was the sort of risk that no team needs.

Through the week, the Bucs maintained they had a need to keep their emotions in balance against their bitter NFC South rival. Well, that almost worked. When logic had a need to prevail sufficient reason for the Bucs already without receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones emotions took over.

Fournette maintained he mixed it up with Lattimore following the cornerback called him a vulgar name. It seemed that Fournette was arriving at aid from Tom Brady, who exchanged words with Lattimore following the cornerback covered a deep third-down incompletion that forced a punt. Then it had been a push, a shove, a punch. Within minutes, two dozen players were engaged at midfield in the melee, even though some, like Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, have there been as peacemakers.

While replays showed that Lattimore threw a punch at Fournette, the Bucs running back only shoved back. He, too, knew the stakes of a casino game that during incident was tied3-3. Insulted or not by Lattimore, he resisted the urge to brawl.

But easily see him on the road, Im likely to whup his ass, Fournette told USA TODAY Sports.

Officials reviewed the incident at the NFL command center and determined that Fournette didnt warrant an ejection for his role.

Asked specifically about Fournette, Walt Anderson, NFL senior vice president of officiating, said in a pool report, We just didn’t feel just like those actions rose to the amount of disqualification.

In Evans case, there is little dispute. And its own not just a stretch to wonder whether his aggressiveness toward Lattimore was bad blood lingering between bitter rivals.

In 2017, Evans drew a one-game suspension when he came off the bench and blasted the then-rookie Lattimore in the trunk to ignite a brouhaha. Now this.

We’ve a brief history, but I didnt haven’t any ill intentions there, Evans said of the most recent episode. I was protecting my teammate.

Lattimore didnt talk with reporters afterward to supply his version of events. But Evans insisted that the action on Sunday doesnt compare to the blow to the trunk in 2017. In the end, Lattimore probably saw him coming.

I simply pushed him to the bottom, head up, Evans maintained. It had been no cheap shot.

Maybe Evans just doesnt fully realize their own strength. Or possibly not.

I tried to shove him hard as hell, he said.

On the other hand, in his view, he drew a line he didnt cross.

I didnt throw no punches, Evans said. I didnt body-slam him or nothing. I simply pushed him off my teammate.

Evans may find himself explaining all this to the NFL, if the case advances to help expand discipline.

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