Texans Clinch AFC South Title with Win vs. Buccaneers

The Houston Texans traveled to Tampa Bay, Fla., on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16 of the 2019 NFL season and entered the season at 9-5 looking to clinch the AFC Championship for the fourth time in five years. Tampa Bay entered the game with four victories in a row at 7-7 on the season, hoping to change their record to a winning season.

The Buccaneers started the game with possession of the ball and on the second play, Jameis Winston threw a pass meant for Justin Watson but was picked off by Bradley Roby who took the ball 27 yards for the pick-six and Ka’imi Fairbairn put the ball through the uprights for the extra point, putting Houston on the board 7-0 with just 48 seconds shaved off of the clock. Tampa Bay’s second drive ended the same way as the first, but this time, the pick-six was condensed to just a pick following a Houston penalty.

Houston’s first offensive drive started at the Tampa Bay 24-yard line and the Buccaneers’ defense forced the Texans to bring out the kicking team as Fairbairn put a 32-yard field goal through the posts, giving Houston a 10-point lead within the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game.

Tampa Bay tried to answer with a field goal in their next possession, but Matt Gay’s kick from 54 yards was blocked by the Texans’ special teams and the score remained unchanged. Gay had another opportunity in the Buccaneers’ next drive, and this time he put it through the posts from the 50-yard line with less than a minute to go in the first quarter and put the first points on the board for the Bucs, 10-3.

The Texans kept the lead and possession of the ball in the second quarter but Duke Johnson fumbled the ball and Devin White recovered it for an eight-yard gain, ending the possession for Houston. However, in the drive that followed, the Texans took the ball back after Jonathan Joseph intercepted a Winston pass, Winston’s third turnover of the first half. The Texans didn’t capitalize on the turnover and went three-and-out in the next drive.

Tampa Bay turned the ball over again in the very next drive, and this time Houston did capitalize on the turnover when Carlos Hyde rushed the ball for a one-yard touchdown, giving the Texans a 14-point lead. Two drives later, the Buccaneers put their first touchdown of the game up when Ronald Jones II rushed the ball four yards for the score, closing the lead to seven points, 14-7 with less than two minutes to play in the half.

Tampa Bay kept the momentum for the last couple of minutes when they intercepted a pass Deshaun Watson intended for Kenny Stills and then capitalized on the next possession with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Watson. The two teams went into halftime tied, 17-17.

The Texans had possession of the ball to open the second half and despite several incomplete passes from Watson, who appeared to have a foot injury hindering him, the Texans did put three up to take the lead after Fairbairn kicked a 25-yard field goal to wrap up the 14-play opening drive, 20-17.

The Buccaneers also put up a field goal to close out an opening drive of 16 plays and eight minutes when Gay put it through the posts from the 41-yard line and the score was tied at 20 with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter; the score would remain unchanged. The Texans ended the quarter with possession of the ball and again had the first opportunity to put points up first in the final quarter.

Houston opened the last quarter of the game with another field goal by Fairbairn to close out the 10-play opening drive. The score would remain the same throughout the next several plays which included another Tampa Bay turnover when Winston threw his fourth interception of the game, essentially ending any chances the Buccaneers had to come back.

Tampa Bay’s defensive line kept Houston’s offense from making any real moves on the field today and held the Texans to 161 passing yards and 68 rushing yards in comparison to the 329 and 106, respectively, for the Buccaneers. With this 23-20 victory, Houston clinched the AFC South title for the fourth time in five years and will face the Tennessee Titans to conclude the regular season on Dec. 29. Tampa Bay will enter the final week of the season with a losing record and will face their divisional rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, to close out the season.


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