Posted on December 22, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The Houston Texans went into Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in need of more than just a win. But a win as all that was needed to clinch the AFC South title.
However, if they could secure the win while playing well in the process, they could give fans a reason to believe they can do more than just win the division this year.
Well– the did get the win. With a 37-yard field goal about midway through the fourth quarter, the Texans took the lead for good, 23-20. But was it the kind of win that could give fans confidence the team can move beyond the division round this year?
From a defensive perspective, it couldn’t have gone better. Since they were facing Jameis Winston, the secondary had to know that the opportunity for turnovers would be there—especially on the opening drive of the game.
As could be expected against Winston, the Texan got the game started with an interception return for a touchdown on the second play of the game. Bradley Roby got the pick and took it 27-yards to give Houston the early lead.
Winston wasted no time throwing another pick-6 on the next drive, this time to Justin Reid. But it didn’t count because of a penalty committed during the run back. Tampa Bay’s defense held tough and Houston had to settle for a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
The defense went on to force two more turnovers (an interception and a fumble) in the first half, along with a blocked field goal. What they did enough in the first half would be considered a fantastic defensive effort for an entire game.
However, since the offense struggled to get on track, they failed to take advantage of all the turnovers. The generated less than 100 yards of offense in the first half. As a result, heading into the break, the score was tied 17-17.
With the offense struggling to do anything right, the Texans needed the defense to come through in the second half—and they did. After giving up just a field goal on a 16-play, 57-yard drive that took over eight minutes off the clock, the Texans defense kept the Buccaneers offense in check.
Once the offense was able to regain the lead midway through the fourth, the defense did the rest—literally with no help from the offense. After forcing a turnover on downs, the offense went three and out. But then the defense recorded a fourth interception only to see the offense go three and out again, giving Tampa Bay one last chance.
But, luckily, Tampa Bay couldn’t pull off a miracle finish.
So, they won thanks to an impressive defensive performance, and despite a poor, uninspired, and thoroughly unimpressive offensive performance.
Now, the question will be how badly they want to gun for the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Right now, they are the No. 4 seed. But should the Chiefs lose one of their last two, the Texans would move up to No. 3. However, as the No. 3 seed, they would probably end up facing the Steelers in the wild card round. But as the No. 4, they will see the Buffalo Bills.
Pittsburgh has been able to find ways to win this season, but fans may feel a little better about taking Houston’s +1400 odds to win the AFC (via DraftKings) if they had an easier opponent in the Wild Card round.