In a turnover filled Saturday afternoon, the visiting Houston Texans came out on top versus the injury-riddled Buccaneers by a close score of 23-20.
The Bucs won the toss and elected to receiving the opening kick off. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians has been known to have a desire to make the opening statement to start games, so this was no surprise. What also wasn’t a surprise (unfortunately) was that quarterback Jameis Winston’s first pass of the game was intercepted. That was the sixth opening drive interception Winston has thrown this season. And to make matters worse, the Texans returned the interception for a touchdown to open the scoring at 7-0.
When the Bucs took over after the turnover, their next possession was much of the same, as Winston threw his second interception of the game. That interception was also returned for a touchdown, but a holding penalty on the return brought it back. When Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ offense took the field for the first time, the Bucs defense was ready for them and held them to just a field goal. That brought the score to 10-0.
On the Bucs’ third drive, they were able to sustain more control of the ball, traveling 49 yards in six plays. But at the end of the drive, the Texans blocked a long 54-yard field goal attempt from Matt Gay, resulting in another turnover.
Thankfully for the Bucs offense, the defense was down to hold up their end of the bargain, as they held the Texans to just 15 yards in five plays, yielding a punt. Winston and the Bucs offense once again settled down and were able to travel 58 yards in nine plays, this time ending the drive with a successful field goal to bring the score to 10-3.
On the next Texans drive, the Bucs defense took it up a notch and not only contained Houston’s offense, but linebacker Lavonte David forced a fumble, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Devin White. This brought good momentum to the Bucs sideline. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, as Winston’s turnover syndrome reared its ugly head again, as he threw his third interception of the game.
The Bucs defense did hold the Texans to a three-and-out following the turnover, but a fumble by the Bucs offense on their next series once again sent a tired Bucs defense out on the field. They weren’t able to keep up their stellar play on the next drive and gave up seven points, which extended Houston’s lead to 17-3.
For most teams, this score and situation would be a disaster. For the Buccaneers, some would say they had them right where they wanted them. On the next two drives, Winston and the offense caught fire. Traveling 81 yards on their first drive and 39 yards on their next, the Bucs scored back-to-back touchdowns with a Jamel Dean interception in between to bring the score to 17-17 at half.
After such a back-and-forth first half, the third quarter was much slower with a much more controlled offensive pace for both teams.
On the Texans’ first drive, Watson and company traveled 68 yards in 14 plays in a drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock. That first drive ended in a field goal for them to re-take the lead 20-17. On the Bucs first possession, they, too, took their time moving down the field. Winston and his offensive weapons orchestrated a 16-play, 57-yard drive that also ended in three points to once again tie the game. This time the score read 20-20.
Following both teams trading field goals, both offense struggled to move the ball and the teams traded punts. When the Texans took over following the dueling punts, Watson and company were faced with a crucial third-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter. On that play, Watson found wide receiver DeAndre Carter 39 yards down the field for a conversion and a new set of downs in Buccaneers territory. However the Bucs defense was able to hold firm after the big play and forced the Texans into a field goal try. They converted and brought the score to 23-20.
The Bucs took over down three with just over seven minutes left in the game. After anemic plays on first and second down, Winston was able to hit Justin Watson on a short route to keep the drive going. That gave way to a 23-yard pass to Ronald Jones to bring them to midfield. A few plays later the Bucs were faced with a fourth-and-short. On the play, tight end Cameron Brate was able to sneak his was into some open grass in the middle of the field, but the ball hit his hands and then went into the ground — a turnover on downs.
On the Texans’ next drive, with a chance to close the game out with a few first downs, the Bucs defense rose to the occasion, forcing a quick three-and-out.
Tampa Bay took over from their own 10-yard line with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter. To start the drive, Winston hit Perriman for a 19-yard gain. But unfortunately for the Buccaneers, this game ended the way it started, as Winston threw his fourth turnover of the game to give the ball and the win to the Texans.