Although 20 key contributors did not play, including 16 starters, Tampa Bay was able to grab a road win in the 2010 preseason finale thanks to the stellar play of some of its reserves. The Buccaneers started Rudy Carpenter at quarterback in place of Josh Johnson, who was healthy, but benched for precautionary reasons. Carpenter bounced back from a rough game last week against Jacksonville to complete 15-of-22 passes (68.2 percent) for 203 yards with two touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn and no interceptions against the Texans.
As well as Carpenter played for Tampa Bay’s offense, free safety Corey Lynch was just as good for the Buccaneers defense, returning two interceptions a total of 119 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown. Lynch’s other pick set up a touchdown as Tampa Bay built a 17-0 halftime lead.
The Texans out-gained the Bucs 417-267 yards in the game and were an impressive 4-of-5 (80 percent) on fourth down conversions. But the Bucs won the turnover battle 2-0, and Lynch’s big plays and Carpenter’s passing proved to be the keys to Tampa Bay’s victory.
The Bucs got on the scoreboard first after an 11-play, 59-yard scoring drive Carpenter picked up three first downs by completing passes to Micheal Spurlock (19 yards), Reggie Brown (16 yards) and Kareem Huggins (12 yards) to get the Bucs into field goal position. With 9:15 left, the Bucs led 3-0 after Connor Barth’s 38-yard field goal.
Dan Orlovsky got the start for Houston and played well, completing his first eight passes for 85 yards, but after his first incompletion, he threw an interception to Lynch, who stepped in front of receiver David Anderson and returned the pick 91 yards for a touchdown as he eluded Orlovsky’s tackle attempt. With 9:15 left in the second quarter, Tampa Bay went up 10-0.
Lynch picked off Orlovsky again at the Houston 44 and returned the interception 28 yards down to the 16-yard line right before halftime. After Carpenter hit rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn for a 9-yard catch down to the Houston 7-yard line, that duo connected again a few plays later with a 3-yard touchdown on second-and-goal. Benn’s touchdown catch made the score 17-0 with 22 seconds left before halftime.
After missing a 56-yard field right before halftime, the Texans finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when quarterback John David Booty connected with a 32-yard touchdown over rookie cornerback Myron Lewis to cap off an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive. With 11:15 left in the third quarter, Houston trailed Tampa Bay 17-7.
The Buccaneers red zone defense stiffened on the next Texans’ drive, which stalled at the Tampa Bay 3. After a seven-play, 73-yard drive, Neil Rackers was forced to kick a 21-yard field goal to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 17-10 with two seconds left in the third quarter.
With 7:28 left in the fourth quarter, the Bucs added to their lead with a 21-yard touchdown catch by Benn to cap off a seven-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Carpenter was 4-of-5 for 87 yards on the touchdown drive, hitting rookie Preston Parker twice for 45 yards.
Booty rallied the Texans on a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Derek Fine reduced Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-17 with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton did not have a catch for the second straight week and has just two receptions for 17 yards this preseason. There is a strong likelihood that he will be released on Saturday as the Bucs whittle their roster down to 53.
Tampa Bay has been impressed with the play of undrafted free agent rookie Preston Parker, who had two catches for 45 yards against Houston, and Micheal Spurlock, who finished the preseason with six receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The Buccaneers will have a one-week roster exemption due to the suspension of cornerback Aqib Talib.
Tampa Bay finished the preseason 2-2 and will host the Cleveland Browns (2-2) in the 2010 regular season opener on September 12.THURSDAY’S STARTING LINEUPS
The announced Tampa Bay starting lineup for Thursday’s game was as follows:BUCS STARTING OFFENSE
WR Michael Clayton
LT James Lee
LG Marc Dile
C Donovan Raiola
RG Derek Hardman
RT Demar Dotson
TE Jerramy Stevens
WR Reggie Brown
FB Chris Pressley
RB Kareem Huggins
QB Rudy CarpenterBUCS STARTING DEFENSE
LE Kyle Moore
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Roy Miller
RE Stylez G. White
WLB Geno Hayes
MLB Niko Koutouvides
SLB Quincy Black
LCB E.J. Biggers
RCB Elbert Mack
FS Corey Lynch
SS Cody GrimmMISSING IN ACTION
Here is a list of Tampa Bay players that did play in Thursday’s game:
QB Josh Freeman (broken thumb)
SS Sabby Piscitelli (concussion)
WR Maurice Stovall (sprained ankle)
G Davin Joseph (hip flexor)
QB Josh Johnson (coaches decision)
G Keydrick Vincent (coaches decision)
TE Kellen Winslow (coaches decision)
WR Mike Williams (coaches decision)
WR Sammie Stroughter (coaches decision)
RB Cadillac Williams (coaches decision)
FB Earnest Graham (coaches decision)
LT Donald Penn (coaches decision)
C Jeff Faine (coaches decision)
C Jonathan Compas (coaches decision)
DT Brian Price (coaches decision)
MLB Barrett Ruud (coaches decision)
CB Ronde Barber (coaches decision)
CB Aqib Talib (coaches decision)
FS Tanard Jackson (coaches decision)
SS Sean Jones (coaches decision)BUCS IN-GAME INJURIES
Tampa Bay middle linebacker Niko Koutouvides, who started in place of Barrett Ruud, got injured on the Texans’ second offensive play of the game. Koutouvides injured his right shoulder making a tackle. He did not return. Left guard Marc Dile got injured in hand in the first quarter, but returned to action. Fullback Chris Pressley injured his thigh in the third quarter blocking on a kick return. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn injured his right side during the third quarter covering a punt and did return. Backup right tackle Demar Dotson injured his left knee in the third quarter and did not return. Backup linebacker Lee Robinson was shaken up in the third quarter with a concussion. Reserve defensive end Michael Bennett injured his right knee in the third quarter, but did return. Free safety Corey Lynch pulled his left hamstring midway through the fourth quarter. KICKOFF CONDITIONS
The announced attendance for the Buccaneers vs. Texans game at Reliant Stadium was 70,035, although it appeared only two-thirds full. The kickoff temperature was 84 degrees in the domed stadium.UP NEXT
The Buccaneers (2-2) will host the Cleveland Browns (2-2) on Sunday, September 12 in Tampa Bay’s 2010 season finale. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and will either be blacked out locally or televised on CBS.
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