MINNEAPOLIS — Right 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.

“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.”


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