Saturday's division clinching 23-20 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs by the Texans was an odd statistical anomaly. On the one hand, when a team turns it over 5 times including a pick 6 like the Bucs did, they get buried. On the other hand, when one team (the Bucs) dominates in so many offensive categories, almost doubling up on total yardage (435 - 229 yds), sacking the opponent 5 times, converting 9 of 17 third downs while holding Toro's team to 4 of 14, you might expect them to dominate.
Instead what you had was a game where both teams shot themselves in the foot at inopportune times.
The Texans after a pick 6, a FG after another almost pick 6 and then a 2nd quarter Carlos Hyde TD had a 17-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the half. Well we had seen this movie before at least we thought we had and expected the Bucs to move down the field easily and draw within 7 before half. Instead thanks to a foolish bomb/ interception to a double covered Kenny Stills, the Bucs doubled down and drove for two easy TDs one on each side of that pick. Instead of heading to the half up 7 or 14, after a half where the Texans forced 4 turnovers and blocked a FG, they went to the half with no lead.
The second half was mostly offensive frustration on both sides as the Texans won a FG duel two to one. The end of the game featured the Texans normal frustration relative to finishing things and running out the clock. After what should have been a clinching interception by Jahleel Addae with 1:27 left in the game, the Texans decided to not kneel, but to "go for it" (Note - running Carlos Hyde into the middle of the line when the other team has 10 in the box is not going for it). Granted if the Texans had knelt - they might have had to punt with a few seconds left with the clock running out as the ball floated down field. But instead they ran Hyde into the middle, held on the play stopping the clock and eventually had to punt leaving the Bucs with 21 seconds, which they luckily did not cash in on. The Texans won for the 10th time - the 8th time by a single score. It is always great to win in the NFL and winning the division on the road against a team that had won four in a row was still a good win. But they made it tougher than it should have been.
· Maybe Will Fuller should put his name forward as team MVP. He went down early in this one and the offense went down with him. It was one of their worst performances of the season.
· Not counting the kneel down at the end of the first half, the Texans had eight non-scoring drives in this game where they gained a measly total of 51 yards.
· They only had two solid long offensive drives - both in the second half, but on both they settled for short field goals.
· Deshaun Watson struggled under pressure all day, hitting only 19 of 32 for 184 yards. Pair that in with 5 sacks and a brain dead interception and it was not one of Deshaun's better days.
· The Bucs defense turned DeAndre Hopkins into the most ineffective version we have seen of him in a long time. He caught 5 of 9 targets for a miserable 23 yds.
· Carlos Hyde could not get near 2 yds a carry as his 17 carries for 27 yds was just brutal. He had 10 runs for 2 yards or less and a long of 6 yards on the day. Which leads us to...
· It was not a good day for the o-line as they did not accomplish Job #1 (Protect Deshaun) or Job #2 (Open holes for Carlos).
· Bradley Roby's pick 6, followed by Justin Reid's pick on the next series helped put the Bucs in a 10-0 hole and set the tone for a 5 turnover day by Tampa Bay.
· It is weird to say that the defense had trouble getting off the field on a 5 turnover day, but they certainly were letting the Bucs move the ball beside those 4 picks and fumble recovery. If they were playing a team that was a lot more careful with the pill (or who did not have their two All-Pro receivers out injured) it could have been an ugly game.
· Along with Reid, Roby and Addae, senior statesman J-Jo had the 4th interception on the day.
· Whitney Mercilus, who undoubtedly misses JJ, had two sacks - his first since a 1/2 sack way back in week 7.
· DeAndre Carter contributed with Fuller out (2 catches for 44 yds) and Kenny Stills was the top target with 5 catches for 57 yards.
Bottom line, the Texans went out on the road and beat a team and QB that had been playing very well. They need to figure out how to run an offense efficiently without Will Fuller in the lineup.