The Bucs played a hard fought game on Saturday, taking the Houston Texans down to the wire with one of their better defensive performances of the season. But eventually, turnovers came back to haunt the Bucs, who had five on the game, in a 23-20 loss.
After being tied at the half and again tied going into the fourth quarter, the Bucs found themselves down 23-20 and in possession of the ball at their own 10 yard line with 2:21 remaining and a chance to tie or take the lead. However, three plays after the two-minute warning Jameis Winston threw his fourth and final interception of the game that sealed it for the Texans.
These were out most impressive performances amidst the loss.
LB Lavonte David
David was the catalyst for a Bucs’ defense that came firing out of the gates right away. Sparked by a big hit on Will Fuller at the end of the first quarter, David was all over the field making play after play. David forced two fumbles in the first half (though only one of them counted because of an early whistle by the refs). David continued to perform well in the second half making plays in both the run and pass game and another big time tackle, this time on star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. David played like someone who should be in the Pro Bowl, on the way to a team-best 10 tackles and a forced fumble.
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
The Bucs defensive front provided a good amount of pressure on the mobile Deshaun Watson that forced him to run around more than he wanted to. When the Bucs were able to take Watson down for a sack, it was often Pierre-Paul wrapping him up. Pierre-Paul was the best pass rusher for the Bucs on Saturday, notching three sacks on the afternoon in an overall solid effort by the entire defensive line. Pierre-Paul had four tackles, three sacks, and three tackles for loss in arguably his best game of his shortened season.
CB Carlton Davis
Davis’ stat line was five tackles, but the stat line of Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins was just five catches for 23 yards, and that’s a win for any cornerback trying to guard him. Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the game, and Davis’ ability to cover Hopkins and limit his productivity was important for the defense.
RB Ronald Jones
Jones had the longest run of his career with a 49 yard rush in the first quarter that sparked the Bucs offense. He later punched in a touchdown in the second quarter that cut the Bucs deficit to 17-10. It was tough sledding for Jones after that, but a big part of that had to with the offensive lines inability to create space for him, so Jones picked it up in the passing game as a receiver. Jones finished the game with 77 yards on 14 carries and one rushing touchdown along with three receptions for 32 yards.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
In his young career, the rookie corner has shown the ability to make his imprint on a game one way or another, whether it be by instinct or luck. Murphy-Bunting was involved in a number of plays in the game, which included a pass deflection and his first career sack, which was also a forced fumble on the play. Murphy-Bunting had a busy game with four tackles, one sack, and one pass deflection.
WR Breshad Perriman
The Bucs were going to need someone to step up with top receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out for the game and it was Perriman that answered the call. Perriman’s most impressive play came late in the game not long after he caught a ball for a first down and got his bell rung. After returning to the game, Perriman made a very difficult sideline reception where he was able to control the ball and also tap both feet in bounds all while stopping the clock. Perriman finished the game with seven receptions for 102 yards.
CB Jamel Dean
With momentum starting to get on the Bucs side in the first half, Dean capped it off with a big interception that he returned for 31 yards and put the offensive in good field position where they eventually scored a touchdown. Dean had one tackle, one pass breakup and one big time interception in the game.