ight after cutting Minnesota’s lead to two touchdowns, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced the Vikings into their only three-and-out of the game.
The window for a rally was still open early in the fourth quarter, until it slammed shut with an errant pass by Jameis Winston.
Andrew Sendejo picked it off and returned it 36 yards to the Buccaneers 35, setting up a field goal that gave the Vikings a three-score lead.
The momentum was gone, and Mike Evans was mad.
The star wide receiver stomped around on the sideline before kicking a water bottle and shoving over a towel cart . After a commanding victory over the Bears in Chicago to start their season, the Buccaneers took several steps backward in a 34-17 defeat on Sunday by the Vikings .
The frustration was evident.
“I can’t do that. I’m a captain. I got to fight my emotions better than that,” Evans said. “Playing with passion is cool, but I’ve got to fight my emotions better than that, and I’ve got to understand it’s just one game. I wanted this one bad.”
Evans, who was shadowed by Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes, had a quiet seven catches for 67 yards. DeSean Jackson, the intended target on the pass Sendejo intercepted, had four receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown. But the Buccaneers (1-1) were playing from behind from the start.
Winston went 28 for 40 for 328 yards, but he was picked off three times, twice in the end zone.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 24, 2017
“I make the final decision on where the ball goes, and I’ve got to protect the football at all costs no matter what they do,” Winston said.
Now the Buccaneers, with injuries to several key players on defense, play twice in the next 11 days with the New York Giants and New England Patriots visiting.
“Hopefully we can get the taste out of our mouth,” Jackson said. “It’s still a long season, and we have 14 games to go.”
Evans and Jackson were in the spotlight all afternoon, after they took a knee with their hand on their heart during the “Star Spangled Banner” to join the rebuke of President Donald Trump’s recent obscene remarks about players protesting social justice by kneeling during the national anthem.
“However anyone takes it, I’m a firm believer that everyone has their own rights,” Jackson said. “It’s more unity than anything. We don’t want to be individualized.
“We don’t want to take away from our overall goal, which is to go out there and play football. But at the same time, we do have feelings toward things that are being said out there in the world.”
Evans was even more pointed with his criticism of Trump.
“It was very childish on his part,” Evans said. “It seems like he’s trying to divide us.”
The game went like this…
Case Keenum gave Minnesota a brilliant performance in relief of Sam Bradford, passing for three touchdowns and a career-high 369 yards without a turnover to guide the Vikings to a 34-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Stefon Diggs had 173 yards receiving and caught two of Keenum’s throws for scores, one short and one long.
Dalvin Cook produced 169 total yards plus his first NFL touchdown, which capped a 75-yard drive by the Vikings (2-1) to start the game.
They never slowed down, building a 28-3 lead by early in the third quarter on their way to compiling 494 yards.
Trae Waynes and Harrison Smith each picked off Jameis Winston in the end zone, and Andrew Sendejo returned an interception 36 yards in the fourth quarter to set up one of two field goals by Kai Forbath.
Shadowed by Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans had a quiet game with seven catches for 67 yards. When the offense returned to the sideline following Winston’s third interception, Evans was shown on the TV broadcast angrily shoving over a trash can by the bench.
DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate each had four receptions and a touchdown while Winston completed 28 of 40 passes for 328 yards, but the Buccaneers (1-1) simply couldn’t overcome having to play from behind all afternoon. They converted only one of six third downs.
Keenum, meanwhile, went 25 for 33 in the third 300-yard game of his career. With Bradford out for the second straight game because of an ailing left knee, the undrafted former practice squad player with 26 starts in six NFL seasons took full advantage of a Buccaneers defense depleted by injuries.
Well protected by a vastly improved offensive line, Keenum was not sacked and only occasionally hurried. He put on a play-action passing clinic, finding Diggs and fellow wide receiver Adam Thielen (five catches, 98 yards) open at will.
With widespread rebuke around the league toward President Donald Trump for his obscene criticism of the kneeling by players during the national anthem in protest of social injustice, Evans and Jackson each took a knee with a hand on their heart in front of the bench as the “Star Spangled Banner” played. Other Bucs players locked arms in solidarity.
Nobody was kneeling on the Vikings sideline, but many players also stood arm in arm, with owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf and general manager Rick Spielman joining them. Right before the anthem played, about a dozen Vikings ran to the west end zone and knelt with their heads bowed, including Cook, Diggs and Thielen.
Already without three starters for health reasons, defensive tackle Chris Baker, linebacker Kwon Alexander and cornerback Brent Grimes, the Buccaneers defense took even more hits during the game. Backup defensive end Noah Spence was in and out with a shoulder injury.
Standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was limited this week in practice by an ankle problem, limped off twice in the second half before returning from each absence.
Then linebacker Lavonte David was lost in potentially the biggest blow. He had the back of his leg rolled on inadvertently by a Vikings player during a scrum around the ball in the fourth quarter and left the field on a cart.
The Buccaneers host the New York Giants on Sunday.
The Vikings stay at home to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday
Case Keenum has 3 TD passes and Vikings top Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17. Mike Evans Loses Cool as Bucs Go Backward in Loss to Minnesota Vikings.