Texans pull away, hand Bucs 19-9 loss
HOUSTON -- Missed opportunities, including four missed kicks by rookie kicker Kyle Brindza, cost the Bucs in a 19-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
The Bucs (1-2) led 9-7 at halftime, but couldn't get points from Brindza, who had hit a 58-yard field goal early, but missed an extra point and two field goals. Houston (1-2) still only led 10-9 until closing out the win with two scoring drives of 75-plus yards in the fourth quarter.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston threw for more than 200 yards and a touchdown, but saw receiver Mike Evans struggle with drops. The Bucs converted just one of their first 12 third-down opportunities, while the Texans converted eight, many on throws by quarterback Ryan Mallett.
With starting running back Arian Foster out with injury, the Texans got a big game from Alfred Blue, who rushed 31 times for 139 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter when Houston led by only one point.
The Bucs had jumped ahead just before halftime, when rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander's interception on a pass deflected by linebacker Danny Lansanah set the Bucs up at the Houston 26-yard line. The Bucs scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Winston to running back Charles Sims. Sims got his first career touchdown in his hometown of Houston.
The Bucs scored their first points on a 58-yard field goal by rookie kicker Kyle Brindza, but he missed the extra point on Sims' touchdown, and later missed a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Texans had taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, with quarterback Ryan Mallett throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Texans took a 10-9 lead early in the third quarter after Quintin Demps intercepted a Winston pass, setting up Randy Bullock's 39-yard field goal.
The Bucs had a shot at the lead early in the fourth quarter, driving to the Houston 15-yard line. But Winston missed on back-to-back passes, and Brindza missed a 33-yard field goal -- his third miss of the day -- to keep the Texans up 10-9 with 10:56 left.
Houston's offense took that momentum and marched 77 yards for a touchdown, starting with a 30-yard pass to Hopkins, with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on. Alfred Blue finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown and a 16-9 lead.
The Texans again used their ground game to salt away the clock in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 10 points with a field goal with 1:12 left.
The Bucs return home for their next two games, with starting with division rival Carolina on Sunday.