NFL Play of the Year 2016: Award Winner, Voting Results and Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2017

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates after a touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Atlanta. The Buccaneers won the game 31-24.    (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans earned the 2016 NFL Performance Play of the Year award Saturday for his one-handed catch against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9.

The NFL tweeted out the video of Evans' spectacular reception, in which he had to stop his momentum and absorb a big hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal:

After he was announced as the winner, Evans seemed surprised to be taking home an award at the NFL Honors' show. 

"I didn't even know I was nominated for this," he said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

Evans' remarkable catch was one of 32 plays fans could vote for on NFL.com as the top play from 2016. Fans were given the option to select five plays carefully selected from the wealth of terrific feats accomplished during the regular season. 

The NFL introduced the Play of the Year award during the 2011 season. Evans becomes the fourth wide receiver to take home the honor, joining Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers (2011), Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions (2013) and Odell Beckham of the New York Giants (2014). 

Other past winners include Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens (2012) and Aaron Rodgers and Richard Rodgers of the Packers (2015). 

At the time of Evans' catch against the Falcons, who won the game 43-28, Dan Hanzus of NFL.com listed three reasons why it was the best catch of the year.

"1) The ball was delivered high and slightly behind Evans (The Jameis Special), necessitating an OBJ-esque one-handed stab," Hanzus wrote. "2) Evans instinctually managed to get two feet down along the sideline. 3) Evans absorbed a vicious hit and somehow held onto the ball. He later left the game and was placed in concussion protocol, likely because of this play."

Despite exiting that game, Evans played all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his career. He also set a career high with 1,321 receiving yards and tied his career high with 12 touchdown catches. 

The Buccaneers continue to get better with their young offensive nucleus, highlighted by Evans and quarterback Jameis Winston. They posted their first winning record since 2010 and are heading in the right direction as an organization. 

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