The Houston Texans are victorious after a 39-37 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
With the win, the team finally wraps up its tour of the NFC South. Every single one of these game down to the final drive. Yet, this game was not only the most dramatic of this season, this is a candidate for greatest game in Texans’ history. CJ Stroud’s 15 yard game-winning TD pass to Tank Dell is the stuff we have all been dreaming about since the draft. This was especially necessary as Houston had just surrendered their 3rd last-minute lead in four games. However, you play until the final whistle, and that was what happened here.
This game was particularly brutal on the injury front, with the Texans losing Jimmie Ward and Stewart hurt an already weakened secondary, Will Anderson Jr and CJ Stroud logged time in the injury tent, and on top of that Ka’imi Fairbarin was injured and was out with a quad injury. Thus, backup RB Dare Ogunbowale, yes, the back-up running back, spent the 2nd half as the primary place kicker.
This game got off to a rather ominous start, with Houston fumbling on their first possession. At least the Texans held Tampa Bay to a 35 yard FG. The Texans would respond with a 7 play, 75 yard drive, culminated with a Stroud 14-yard TD pass to Nico Collins. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay would take the next two drives to add two TDs, one a 3-yard TD pass to Otton and the other a short 1-yard TD run by White, to put Tampa Bay up 17-7. Houston would do well enough to cut the deficit to 17-10 on a 50-yard Fairbairn FG. Neither team would do anything of significance with their final two drives of the 1st half.
The second half saw Tampa Bay take the ball and kick a FG to go up 20-10. However, the 1st drive of the second half set the tone for Houston, as Stroud found Neal Brown for the one-play, 75 yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 20-16. Houston would proceed to miss the subsequent two-point try. Tampa Bay moved the ball on their next drive, with the help of an ill-timed pass interference penalty on Shaq Griffin. They proceed to troll Houston with the 55 yard FG to go up 23-16. Houston would answer with yet another Stroud TD pass (29 yarder to Tank Dell), but failed again to hit the 2-point conversion. Yet, the Texans defense went from bending to holding firm, forcing a 3 and out. Houston would once again ride the arm of Stroud to move the ball into the Tampa Bay red zone. Houston would face a 4th and goal from the 9, but elected to go for the TD. Stroud hit Schultz with the 9-yard TD, and then made the 2 point conversion, giving Houston the 30-23 lead.
The 4th quarter arrived with Tampa Bay now facing a second half deficit. They responded with a TD drive, culminated a White 1 yard TD run. They trolled Houston’s kicking situation by kicking the XP, tying the game at 30-30. Houston would answer with a long drive that got to the Tampa Bay 9-yard line. However, when facing 4th and Goal, Houston decided to give Ogunbowale a chance for a 29 yarder…which he made to give Houston the 33-30 lead. Tampa Bay went three and out, with the home crowd causing all sorts of disruption to the visitor’s offense. Unfortunately, the worst performance from the Houston offensive line led to a Houston three and out.
Thus, Houston’s defense, for the 4th straight game, held a lead, but faced a team driving with the ball and the chance to tie or win. At one point, Houston had Tampa Bay at a 3rd and 23, but Tampa Bay converted in two plays and drove deeper into Houston territory. Houston did have another chance to close out the game, but they couldn’t recover the Tampa Bay fumble at the Houston 14-yard line. That would prove costly as Baker Mayfied found Otton for his second TD of the game (14 yards) to go up 37-33 with 46 seconds left.
If Stroud evolves into the next great QB, this will be the drive that starts it all. He takes the team down the field, 75 yards, to find Tank Dell for the 15-yard go-ahead TD with 10 seconds left. Houston would just kneel down on the 2-point conversion to prevent the threat of the 2 point conversion run back. Maybe Stroud had a bad game last week. Does a 30 for 42, 470 yard, five-touchdown game sound like a great bounce back?
Also, mad props to Dare Ogunbowale. A backup running back, who had to kickoff, managing two touchbacks and a go-ahead FG. Just like we all figured. Noah Brown and Tank Dell…probably would’ve been a good day to have them on your fantasy team.
Anyway, we all get a week to recover before the next matchup, where Houston gets to visit the Cincinnati Bengals for a noon central duel. Likely the Bengals are the favorites, but after this slugfest, do you doubt the fight of Stroud and the Texans?