Celebrating back-to-back wins will have to wait for Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A winnable game in Houston ended with a frustrating 19-9 defeat, dropping the Bucs to 1-2 on the season and giving the Texans their first victory.
Sunday was filled with miss scoring opportunities, plenty of yellow flags and a near-complete inability to move the chains on third down.
Rookie kicker Kyle Brindza opened his game on a high note by bombing a 58-yard field goal between the uprights, but that positivity didn’t last long. It started with a missed extra point after Tampa Bay took its first lead on running back Charles Sims’ 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown. It continued when he failed to convert a 41-yarder in the third and a 33-yarder in the fourth.
With the defense keeping Houston and inexperienced quarterback Ryan Mallett in check, both kicks would have put the Bucs on top 12-10. The Texans instead held 10-9 leads after each miss and finally took advantage of their good fortune with a 77-yard touchdown drive and 9:14 remaining. Houston’s lead stayed at 16-9 following running back Alfred Blue’s 20-yard touchdown run because of the home team’s own kicking woes. Randy Bullock missed the ensuing extra point and missed a field goal of his own in the second quarter.
Brindza finished off his miserable outing by missing a 57-yard look wide left with only 19 seconds to go. Tampa Bay was down 19-9 and attempting to put itself in position for an onside kick and last-second crack at the end zone.
“Kyle’s our kicker,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said after the game when asked if another kicker will be brought in for a look this coming week. “He, like a lot of us, had a disappointing day today. That hasn’t been the case and you’re going to have off days. This was an off day. When a player has an off day we need to rally around him in other ways and that’s what we weren’t able to do today
Had quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense been able to convert more than one of their 12 third-down opportunities, however, they could have potentially kept Brindza on the sideline while finishing off drives with touchdowns instead of field goal attempts.
Winston’s uneven day included completing only 17 of 36 pass attempts for 261 yards, the wideout screen touchdown connection with Sims and a third-quarter interception by Quinton Demps. After failed to hook up with second-year receiver Mike Evans last week, Winston dialed his number up a staggering 17 times. Evans finished with over 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in his career but his 101 yards were gained while catching just seven of those 17 targets.
“That’s essentially my first game back. I made some plays but I put this on me,” Evans said of his performance after last week’s abbreviated season debut in New Orleans. “There were a lot of plays I should have made on third downs that I didn’t come up with. Our offense played great, but it was just up to me to make a couple of plays that could’ve put us over the hump.”
Winston now has four touchdown passes compared to three interceptions through three games and has completed just over 50 percent of his passes (47 of 90).
Not helping the situation much was an ineffective Bucs running game. Backs Doug Martin (14 carries for 46 yards) and Sims (six for 11) combined for just 57 yards and a 2.9-yard average per attempt.
Houston enjoyed much greater success rushing, primarily in the form of Alfred Blue. Starting in place of injured star Arian Foster for the third straight week, the second-year back turned in his second-best game as a pro. Blue improved as the game progressed, finishing with 139 yards on 31 touches and his fourth-quarter touchdown.
“Offensively, we couldn’t establish our run the way they established their run,” Smith said. “We couldn’t get ours going. And dropped balls … we had opportunities that we didn’t get enough from. It’s kind of simple as that.”
J.J. Watt and Houston’s formidable defensive front failed to sack Winston but managed to land six hits on the rookie. Three of those licks came courtesy of Watt, and while the All-Pro had a quiet day on the stat sheet (five tackles, one for a loss), the frequent double teams he drew led to chances for other defenders to disrupt plays.
Linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander led Tampa Bay with 14 and 10 tackles, respectively. Fellow linebacker Danny Lansanah assisted on Alexander’s first career interception by tipping up a Mallett pass attempt at the line in the second quarter. Alexander dove forward to make an athletic pick and give Tampa Bay the ball at the Houston 26. That drive ended with Sims’ touchdown and Brindza’s missed extra point.
Alexander almost snagged another interception early in the second half, but what the Bucs couldn’t do Sunday was get to Mallett enough to either bring him down or pressure him into mistakes. Defensive tackle Henry Melton’s first-quarter sack was all the pass rush could muster – legally, at least.
Two plays after Melton’s first sack as a Buccaneer, fellow defensive tackle Gerald McCoy got in for a strip-sack of Mallett that was recovered by defensive end Jacquies Smith at the Houston 45. Ruining the moment was Smith getting penalized for defensive holding.
An inability to avoid getting flagged frustrated the Buccaneers for yet another week. Tampa Bay entered Sunday as the league’s second-most penalized team and added 10 more infractions for 84 yards to those growing totals.
Two of those penalties – both 15-yard face mask calls – were committed by strong safety Chris Conte and turned big gains into huge ones. The second helped spark Houston’s 77-yard touchdown drive that put the Texans up 16-9 in the fourth. Mallett hit DeAndre Hopkins (eight catches for 101 yards and a TD) with a deep-middle pass on the first play from scrimmage for 30 yards. Tack on the face mask flag and Houston went from its own 23 to the Bucs 48 in 13 seconds and Blue was dashing into the end zone four plays later.
DID NOT PLAY
I thought our defense absolutely sucked considering they were going against an OL that was decimated by injury. We hardly had any pressure on Mallet and couldn’t stop the run. David and Alexander missed a bunch of tackles that would’ve been losses that turned into nice gains.They’ve been doing this much too often so far this season.
Defense did suck. Couldn’t stop Blue who hasn’t done anything all year until they play us. Couldn’t stop run and the penalties were just horrible. Mallett stinks but you run it down someone’s throat all day like Titans did and play action is available for anybody to expose if your a crapoy backup. Lovies defense was garbage. Thought o line played decent considering who they were up against.
Before all the bashing starts as it inevitably will since we lost, I want to point out how good a job the O-line has done in pass protection, both last week and this week. Winston has had all day to throw both weeks. Koetter called for extra protection on most pass plays with TE’s and backs on either side of Winston, but sometimes the O-line didn’t get help today and they still performed well. D. Smith even blocked Watt one-on-one a few times and won the battle. They’re run blocking was hit or miss today, but with that front seven they were facing that’s to be expected. As for the Bucs losing the game, I’ll repeat a post from last Thursday. “I don’t watch the Texans enough to have a good enough feel for them to know whether we are going to win this game or not. What I do know is that Mallett sucks, and their best RB, WR, TE, LT and 2nd round pick OG from last year are all hurt. The last time I can remember facing an offense this toothless was the opener in 2013 against the Jets…and we lost. However, the Jets needed the help of the refs with that bogus call against L. David and a stellar run defense to beat us. I suspect the Texans will need both of those to pull out a win on Sunday.” I think questionable penalties and our inability to run the ball did us in. Inaccurate passing and bad kicking didn’t help either. That’s why I say the kicker is the 2nd most important position on the team.
You hit the nail on the head pink my friend. How we didn’t dominate this offense without their starting qb and a make shift offensive line is beyond me. I mean does Lovie ever blitz?
Winston was innacurate today on a couple of throws and his receivers were embarrassing with the drops today. But I agree whole heartedly with you about our offensive line. The last two weeks pas protection has been damn good and is very encouraging. Our rookie lineman did a very good job. I knew we’d have trouble running the ball as big daddy wilfork is just too much man to move.
As for our kicker, that was horrible. The kicker position is 80% mental to me and after his first miss he was pushing everything right. I was honestly surprised how good he’s done up to this point as he was terrible at notre dame.
As for the questionable penalties, I’m almost used to it by now. Mike Evans had a rough day to say the leaste.
On a side note I was glad they finally called a penalty on the Texans for going at Jameis knees. They hit him in the knees the entire 1st half and it wasn’t called.
We now know how to beat the Bucs: short slant passes, quick strikes. They just can’t defend it. Titans and Texans used that strategy and the Bucs couldn’t a stop it.
Dallas’s defense got beat bad today too, basically the same one we run. Seahawks run a form of the T2, but Carroll is an aggressive coach. Watching Sea playing da Bears today, Carroll sent his backers through the A,B, cap today constantly on third, and long. Result was a sack, or a throw away. We show that look all the time, but almost always never come, result, they converted most of their 3rd downs. We have a passive coach who plays a sit back and react defense. He’s stresses takeaways to the point we’re so busy trying to strip the ball, we fail to get the runner on the ground. He’s a simple coach, who’s nick name should be simple as that.
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Defensive line didn’t have enough time to sack the QQB because Mallett was taking quick 3 step drops ad getting rid of the ball.
Until the 4th period he didn’t throw one pass further than 10 yards.
the answer to this is for the DBs tohit the receiver at the line but I didn’t see any of this going on.
It wasn’t the lack or a rush, it was the quickness of the ball coming out.
That’s the third game I have watched where the CBs didn’t try to jam the receivers at the line and we got beat because of it.
The other two games were the Raven last year and the Titans this year.
After the first period the coaches should have seen what was going on and told the CB’s to start jamming the receivers at the line.
I am tired of seeing the same thing myself. I mean can’t the dbs play that style? Teams are going to slant us to death all day long as our dbs are playing 5 yards off. I don’t care how they played against the saints, unless we start pressing receivers and actually blitzing every once in a while , this defense is going to continue to get beat with three step drops.
I know Winston is taking some flack for some errant passes and well he should but how may drops did our receiver have. I would dare say a half dozen.
The drop Murphy had down the middle of the fourth period on a first down was a killer. it would have flipped the field.
Also, how was there not a pass interference called on Evans in the endzone when he got one balled against him in the first period for a negligible push.
We got jobbed on that one.
In fact, even though we had to many penalties, I don’t see how the Texans got away with just two or three thrown on them. They aren’t that good.
The interference calls were clearly one-sided yesterday. Even the announcers commented on how tight they were calling it on the outside, then when roles were reversed they commented how the officials were “letting them play”
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We couldn’t get out of our own way yesterday. Winston threw errant passes and Evans had WAY too many drops. Brindza has been good but had a REALLY off day, then you add in the penalties (several were bad calls) and you can see how we lost the game.
On the positive side, our OL handled Watt and company pretty well. Koetter’s scheming helped keep some pressure off Winston and allow him time to throw. It was a rough day for Martin/Sims but we all saw that coming and they weren’t THAT bad. Winston said it best…”promising loss.”
almost forgot about all the missed tackles…not sure what’s going on but I’ve seen more from David in 3 games than the rest of his career combined
A schizophrenic season this year…the Bucs will drive you nuts!
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