ATLANTA -- It took quarterback Jameis Winston four tries to reach him, but with a 17-yard grab in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans officially reached 1,000 yards Sunday, joining Randy Moss as the only receivers in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.
"It means a lot. I put in a lot of work. It wasn't easy," said the seventh overall draft pick in 2014, who needed just 7 yards against Atlanta to reach the same milestone as Moss, his boyhood idol. "He was definitely my favorite receiver growing up. He was a freak of nature and so exciting to watch -- to be in the same sentence as him is amazing."
The two-time Pro Bowler wasn't the only Bucs receiver who had a big day in Tampa Bay's 35-22 win. Teammate Chris Godwin, who benefited from the Falcons lining up in Cover 2, finished with 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his three-year career.
"I've never really [been] a numbers guy in terms of, like, 'All right, I need to hit this number,' but to reach a milestone that I've always believed that I could reach, even when I was a kid -- I'm just so blessed to be in this position," said Godwin, in his first year as a full-time starter. "I've still got a lot to prove, to myself and to everybody else, but I'm on the right track."
Evans and Godwin are the first pair of teammates to each have three performances with at least 150 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history.
"He's a hell of player," Evans said of Godwin. "He's a Pro Bowl receiver. He comes to work every single day. He's gonna keep dominating and I'm gonna be right there with him."
Godwin, who leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches and has one of the league's highest catch rates, has appreciated Evans taking him under his wing.
"It's really an honor to be here and grow and to be able to learn from a guy like Mike who is so humble and he's such a beast -- it's really an honor of mine, Godwin said. "I'm just going to keep coming in, keep doing what I've been doing, keep working, keep learning and just keep trying to go up."
The pair helped Winston overcome two early interceptions -- one on a slant pass intended for Evans that was undercut by Desmond Trufant, and a jump pass intended for Dare Ogunbowale that was picked by De'Vondre Campbell -- to throw three touchdown passes, with Ronald Jones tacking on a fourth TD on the ground.
"All of my receivers did a tremendous job today, but it's kinda cool to see two receivers get 1,000 yards on the same day," Winston said.
Winston's third touchdown came from 347-pound defensive tackle Vita Vea -- a former high school running back -- who ran untouched into the flat for a 1-yard touchdown, the first of his career. According to Pro Football Reference, he was the largest NFL player ever to catch a touchdown pass.
"I thought it was a dream, to be honest. I've just gotta commend Jameis. He threw me a dime. He was spot on, I didn't have to jump, reach out or nothing -- it just came straight to me -- all I had to do was catch it," said Vea, who initially thought he was going to be blocking on second-and-1.
"It was the perfect time. [Offensive coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] called it at the perfect time," coach Bruce Arians said.
Evans chuckled when asked about Vea -- "That was an easy route to run. All you gotta do is just run straight to the end zone and catch the ball -- and he did a great job. ... I'm sure they saw his high school highlights. He's an athlete. He can do a lot. He just got a lot bigger."
Vea denied being the Bucs' new secret offensive weapon, though, saying, "Nah, that's between Mike and Chris."