The Buccaneers fell to the Texans 39-37 as miscues, offensive third-down inefficiency and aerial explosives given up by the defense became the defining factors in the outcome. Both Texans’ tight end Dalton Schultz and receiver Noah Brown eclipsed the 100-yard marker, consistently finding voids in coverage to exploit. C.J. Stroud connected with Tank Dell for a 15-yard touchdown to secure the victory.
On the Texans’ first possession, the Bucs’ defense coughed up the football. Lavonte David forced the ball out of Dalton Schultz’s hands and Antoine Winfield Jr. recovered the ball at the Houston 42-yard line. The Bucs were unable to capitalize on the early gift in Texans’ territory and were stalled. The trip to the red zone ended in a Chase McLaughlin 35-yard field goal.
The Texans followed suit with a score. Both Dalton Schultz (21-yard gain) and Tank Dell (15-yard gain) took advantage of soft zones and picked up yards after the catch. A roughing the passer penalty gave the Texans a first down, spotting the home team at the 14-yard line. Houston cashed in with seven, as Nico Collins gained inside leverage on a slant route for the 14-yard score. On the Bucs’ next possession, the visiting team capped off a 12-play, 75-yard drive – including a 33-yard catch and run by Rachaad White – with a Cade Otton touchdown. The scoring play marked the second of the season for Otton and the fourth of his career.
Early in the second quarter, the Bucs’ forced a quick three-and-out, including a Shaq Barrett tackle for loss on first down and a run stuff by Calijah Kancey on third down. On the ensuing drive for Tampa Bay, a 16-yard gain for Mike Evans on an out route and an 11-yard run up the middle for Rachaad White moved the Bucs down the field. The six-play, 40-yard drive culminated in a White one-yard touchdown rush. The defense forced a Ka’imi Fairbairn 50-yard field goal after pressure by Devin White on third-and-nine forced a Stroud incompletion. On the subsequent drive for the Texans before the half, a sack on Stroud by Calijah Kancey for a loss of 13, a sack by Devin White for a loss of seven and a tackle for loss by Lavonte David stalled Houston’s possession.
Coming out of the half, the Bucs had to settle for a McLaughlin 49-yard field goal after several incompletions on deep balls. The Texans answered with an 18-second scoring play, culminating in a Noah Brown 75-yard catch and run touchdown. Houston trimmed their deficit, 20-16, with 12 minutes to go in the third quarter. The Bucs came up short on the next drive, ending with another field goal, this one a McLaughlin 55-yarder. On the Texans’ next offensive possession, a 26-yard gain by Dalton Shultz set up a Tank Dell touchdown. Dell baited with his release and quickly got north running past, bypassing the defender for the 29-yard touchdown.
The following drive for Tampa Bay began with positive field position off a 51-yard return by Deven Thompkins to Houston’s 39-yard line but was brought back due to a holding penalty. A third-down sack on Baker Mayfield by Khalil Davis forced a Bucs’ punt.
To begin the fourth quarter, Houston capped off a nine-play, 52-yard drive with a nine-yard Dalton Schultz touchdown. The Texans’ two-point attempt succeeded as Stroud rushed up the middle on a quarterback sneak, extending their lead 30-23. The Bucs responded with one of their own. Mayfield heaved a 53-yard bomb to Mike Evans downfield, who caught the pass at the one-yard line to set up first-and-goal. Two plays later, White crossed the goal line on a one-yard touchdown rush to tie it up inside NRG Stadium. The Bucs’ red zone defense forced a field goal on the following drive, after a first-down tackle for loss by Kancey on Andrew Beck and a Stroud incompletion to Schultz.
From third-and-18 on the Texans ensuing drive, Shaquil Barrett notched a strip sack on Stroud and George Fant recovered, which then set up a punt. The Bucs traveled down the field with under two minutes in regulation with a chance to ice the win. Tampa Bay ended a 10-play, 61-yard drive with a 14-yard connection from Mayfield to Otton for a touchdown. However, with 45 seconds left on the clock, the Bucs’ defense could not get a stop as the Texans surged down the field, with Tank Dell serving as the beneficiary. A 26-yard gain for Dell set up the 15-yard connection between Stroud and Dell for the touchdown. The Bucs now fall to 3-5 on the season.
First appeared on www.buccaneers.com