Buccaneers Hold on and Defeat the Texans, 23-16


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) were able to close out their preseason with a 23-16 win over the Houston Texans (2-1) on Saturday night. The Bucs starters point 13 points on the board through the first three drives of the game and the defense held the Texans off long enough to preserve the win.

Now, the Bucs are set to start the regular season in less than two weeks. But before we start focusing on the Dallas Cowboys, let’s recap the win over the Texans.

Brady, Bucs Offense Look Ready

The Bucs immediately started behind the chains as Antonio Brown committed a false start and Ronald Jones II was dropped for a two-yard loss to create a 2nd-and-18. Tom Brady then overthrew Brown on an out route. The Bucs were in a 3rd-and-18 before they could blink.

The offensive woes continued as Giovani Bernard dropped Brady’s screen pass. Bradley Pinion punted the ball away and the Texans started at their own 44 thanks to a 12-yard return by Alex Erickson.

The Buccaneers forced the Texans to punt the ball away, giving them the ball at their own 9-yard lne to start the second offensive drive of the game.

The next drive was a masterful performance from Brady and the Bucs offense. He completed all seven pass attempts (to five different receivers) for 91 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a throw to Chris Godwin in the seam for a 24-yard gain. Godwin showed tremendous athleticism and balance/body control as he caught the ball, took a hit, and ran it in for the score to give the Bucs a 6-0 lead over the Texans. Jose Borregales’ PAT attempt was blocked on the next play.

It looked like the Texans were going to come away with at least some points on the next drive, but the Bucs were able to prevent them from converting a fourth down inside their own 10. The Buccaneers defense really struggled against the Texans offense throughout the entire drive. David Johnson and Mark Ingram ran the ball for a combined 46 yards and Tyrod Taylor was able to make multiple plays using his legs and arms. It was an 18-play, 72-yard drive that ate up a ton of time yet produced no points.

The Bucs had no issue putting up points of their own on the next drive. Brady was great once again, but he also received some help in the form of Jones and the rushing attack. Jones carried the ball three times for 30 yards, including the 13-yard rushing touchdown that gave the Buccaneers a 13-0 lead over the Texans early in the second quarter.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka continued his dominant preseason on the next drive. The Bucs rookie tracked down a Texans running back off the backside and then ended the drive with a strip-sack of Taylor on the next play. Khalil Davis recovered the ball and the Bucs’ next drive started at the Texans’ 33.


Gabbert and the Second Offense Sputter

Blaine Gabbert came in for Brady on the Bucs’ fourth drive of the game and let’s just say things did not go well for the offense. It had nothing to do with Gabbert, however. It was all the Texans defense.

Charles Omenihu continued his solid preseason and broke through the line to sack Gabbert on first down for a 10-yard loss. Terrence Brooks then picked off Gabbert on the next play and returned the ball 26-yards to the Texans 38-yard line.

The Texans offense couldn’t get anything done on the drive, however, as Davis Mills replaced Taylor at quarterback. Disaster struck again for Gabbert and the Bucs offense on their next possession when a bad snap forced Gabbert to fall on the ball in his own end zone. The Bucs now led the Texans, 13-2, with 4:46 left in the first half.

Bucs’ Defense Continues to Make Plays

Herb Miller came through with a really nice interception on a deep out route from Mills near midfield and gave the Bucs the ball back with a chance to extend their lead before halftime. Gabbert and the Buccaneers offense couldn’t do it, as the Texans defense forced a three-and-out.

But the Texans went three-and-out on their next possession. A lot of it had to do with bad field position that was created by Chris Cooper on the previous punt return. Cooper kept the ball out of the end zone by flinging the ball over his head while in midair and then Joe Jones scooped the ball up and kept it from bouncing back into the end zone. In all, the Bucs special teams forced the Texans offense to start at its own five and as a result, the offense was punting three plays later.

A sack and two penalties killed the Bucs next drive. Dee Delaney picked off Mills on the ensuing Texans drive. The latter play set the Buccaneers up at the Texans 42-yard line and Gabbert was able to move the offense into scoring position. Borregales’ made his 36-yard field goal attempt to give the Bucs a 16-2 lead heading into halftime.

LB K.J. Britt Makes Goal Line Stand

Mills remained the Texans quarterback as the second half began. A 34-yard run by Scotty Phillips took the Texans into Tampa Bay territory and then a 17-yard Erickson reception and a neutral zone infraction on Tryon-Shoyinka had the Texans in the red zone.

The Texans got down to the Bucs 1-yard line, but had to go for it on 4th and goal from one yard out thanks to placekicker Ka’imi Fairbairn’s absence. Rookie linebacker K.J. Britt made a great stop on Rex Burkhead to keep him out of the end zone and the Bucs took over with their 16-2 lead intact.

The lead was immediately put right back in jeopardy as a poor exchange between Kyle Trask and Ke’Shawn Vaughn led to a Texans fumble recovery at the Bucs’ 11-yard line.

Mills hit Nico Collins across the middle on the first play of the next drive for an 11-yard touchdown and the Texans converted their 2-point attempt to make it a 16-10 game with 8:48 left in the third quarter.

Kyle Trask Throws His First Touchdown

Trask and the Buccaneers offense redeemed themselves on the next drive by chewing up the Texans defense for 78 yards and a touchdown on six plays. It was easily Trask’s best drive of the preseason. He was accurate, made good reads, and used his legs to create plays. He found Codey McElroy up the seam for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Borregales’ PAT put the Bucs up, 23-10, with 5:13 left in the third quarter. The rookie quarterback completed all four passes for 74 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.

The Texans were able to drive down to the Bucs’ 27, but couldn’t convert the fourth down needed to keep the drive going. Trask and the Bucs offense took over afterward, but DeMarcus Walker was able to strip-sack Trask and the Texans recovered at the Tampa Bay 39.

Houston was faced with yet another fourth down -this time a 4th and 8 from the Tampa Bay 9- and came away with the conversion as Mills found Jordan Veasy in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Mills tried to find Veasy again during the 2-point attempt, but they couldn’t convert this time around. The Bucs now led, 23-16, with 12:33 left in the game.

Trask was able to get the Bucs into field goal range on the next drive, but the Texans special teams came through with its second block of the game. Tavierre Thomas was able to get his hands on the ball and Brooks returned the ball 30-yards to the Bucs’ 30-yard line.

But Tampa Bay’s defense came up with its fourth turnover of the game with another strip-sack of Mills. It was Javon Hagan who broke through and sacked Mills. Elijah Ponder recovered the ball, setting the Bucs offense up at its own 37.

Buccaneers’ Defense Finishes Strong

The Texans had a great chance to make things really interesting after Buddy Howell ripped off a 46-yard run to move the ball inside the Bucs’ 30, but it was called back due to a holding call. Houston then shot itself in the foot again as Carson Greene was subsequently called for a false start. Instead of a 1st and 10 at around the Bucs’ 28, it was now 3rd and 10 at the Houston 20.

Mills was able to hit Jordan Brevin for an 11-yard gain, but Delaney eventually ended the drive with his second interception of the game. The Bucs would go on to win, 23-16.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have some time to rest before they kickoff the 2021 regular season at home against the Dallas Cowboys. They’ll be able to get some players back from the COVID-19 reserve list and a few injuries players as well.