The victory in hand, it was time for Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to celebrate. If they could remember how.
"I'd forgotten exactly what the routine is after wins," the coach said. "But we figured it out pretty quick. Just natural emotion in the locker room."
The Buccaneers had lost five straight, which certainly can feel like a long time in the NFL, but it had been even longer since the league had seen the type of rookie performance that propelled the team to Sunday's 27-7 win over the Washington Redskins.
Mike Evans caught seven passes for 209 yards and two scores, the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver proving both too big and too quick to cover for the Redskins' secondary. He set up a field goal with a 51-yard catch in the first half, and his touchdowns of 36 and 56 yards came in the second half, the last score coming after an inside move that left linebacker Perry Riley trailing hopelessly behind.
"When I have a game like that — I had a couple of those in college — it feels like getting hot in basketball," said the No. 7 overall pick from Texas A&M.
Evans said he watched the Randy Moss "30 for 30" ESPN special Saturday night, so it was only fitting that he is now the first rookie to have three consecutive 100-yard games with at least one touchdown in each since Moss in 1998. According to STATS, he's also the first rookie with 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a game since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Evans finished seven yards shy of Vincent Jackson's franchise record of 216.
The Redskins (3-7) looked lost all game, committing 11 penalties and three turnovers. Robert Griffin III was sacked six times behind an offensive line that lost two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams to knee and ankle injuries in the first quarter.
"It really looked like the first preseason game," Washington coach Jay Gruden said.
Here's more on why the Buccaneers were smiling again, and why the Redskins were booed early and often:
EVANS AUDIBLES: Evans is getting so comfortable that he gave McCown a route adjustment while running behind the quarterback in motion — and just before the snap on the play that went for the 36-yard touchdown.
"I was motioning over. I said, 'Josh, just throw it up.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah,'" Evans said. "We got the good coverage we wanted, and he threw a great ball."
RG3'S STRUGGLES: Griffin threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage. Threw a pick-six on Washington's third possession. And now the Redskins are 1-8 in the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year's last nine starts — with the lone victory coming against Jacksonville in Week 2 when he left in the first quarter with a dislocated left ankle.
Gruden was asked what has happened to Griffin.
"That's something that we have to find the answer to," Gruden said, "and he has to find the answer to."
McCOWN'S EMOTIONS: After the previous week's loss, McCown broke down at his postgame news conference. This time, when he saw reporters making room for him to get to the dais, he deadpanned: "Last week, y'all get wet?"
Still, a 288-yard passing day that produced a win was reason to be emotional again.
"It's a way different feeing, although (the tears) could come out right now, too," he said.
LOVIE LAWS DOWN THE LAW: Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy credited a more hands-on approach by Smith for the defensive's big day.
"He lets his staff coach," McCoy said. "(But) the last couple of weeks he's been coming in there, saying, 'Hey, you've got to have a different attitude.' He usually don't do that. So we take that as, 'All right we got to do something. The head man is coming in here.'"
WILLIAMS' INJURY: Williams has an injured right knee ligament and will have an MRI on Monday. He was blocking on a third-down play when McCoy knocked into Williams' leg.
McCoy and Williams were college teammates at Oklahoma and were drafted consecutively at Nos. 3 and 4 in the first round in 2010. For the rest of Sunday's game, rookie Morgan Moses took over at left tackle.
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