CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mike Evans' emotional 2015 season was building to this point. That's the way the Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver sees his raucous send-off, complete with two unsportsmanlike conduct flags and a fourth-quarter ejection in a 38-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
"I lost my cool," Evans said of the flags that flew after he argued for pass interference on a late-game incompletion in the end zone. "I don't think it was enough to get ejected. I've seen people do way worse. I guess the way I played, my passion throughout the year, they wanted to get me. I'll take the punishment."
Two Carolina defenders appeared to collide with Evans in the back of the end zone as he went after a Jameis Winston pass with about two minutes to play in the game. Evans said he thought the official failed to throw a flag because the score of the game was so lopsided, and he offered that criticism in colorful enough fashion to draw a flag.
Evans jawed with one official, then as teammate Doug Martin attempted to pull him away from the situation, he continued to scream and push his way back toward the officials. The end result was a tandem of flags, both of which referee Jerome Boger announced were for "disrespectfully addressing an official."
There was little left to accomplish by the time Evans was tossed, but it was still far from the ideal way to send off Tampa Bay's leading receiver for the year. He finished the game with four catches for 99 yards and wrapped up the season with 1,206 yards, the seventh-most in a season in Bucs history.
But Evans' emotional outbursts have been a source of contention, and the ejection was perhaps a long time coming.
Coach Lovie Smith downplayed things in his postgame news conference, but made his disappointment in Evans' behavior clear.
"You can figure that part out," Smith said when asked about his feelings on the ejection. "We're not happy, no."
Evans is a critical part of the Buccaneers' offense moving forward, but controlling his emotions will be a key to his development, particularly with teammates pointing to the hefty total of flags Tampa Bay earned this season -- 143 total, tied with Buffalo for the most in the league -- as a major cause for concern.
"We can be a really great offense," Evans offered after the game. "I think we will be. We've just got to make the plays and put in the work."