HOUSTON — Back healthy after being limited by a hamstring injury, WR Mike Evans was the focus of the Bucs' offense Sunday, targeted for 17 passes. But his day was marked by drops, a costly penalty and missed opportunities, especially on third down.
"I put this on me," said Evans, who finished with seven catches for 101 yards in the 19-9 loss to the Texans. "There were a lot of plays I should have made on third downs that I didn't come up with. The offense played great. It was up to me to make a couple of plays that could have put us over the hump."
QB Jameis Winston went 0-for-7 on third-down passes thrown to Evans, whose mistakes helped keep the Bucs from building any kind of lead. Among the biggest miscues:
• On the opening drive, after a 19-yard pass to WR Vincent Jackson, Evans was flagged for offensive pass interference, leading to a punt.
• At the end of the first half, in Texans territory, Evans dropped a pass in field-goal range on third down, forcing a punt.
• On the opening drive of the second half, Evans dropped an easy screen pass, and an interception followed on the next play on third down.
• Evans looked to have a third-down conversion in the third quarter, but his catch was overturned on an instant-replay review.
That's not to say all the misses were Evans' fault. Winston missed high in some cases, and he threw behind Evans on third down at the Texans' 15-yard line in the fourth quarter with a chance to retake the lead.
"There were a couple of tough catches that I'm capable of making," Evans said. "If I want to be the best, I have to make those plays, and I didn't make most of them. If I had made them, we would have had a better chance to win."
NO SACKS: Houston's defensive line had plenty of pressure on Winston, but the Bucs held the Texans without a sack, ending a streak of seven games in which Houston had had at least one. "Offensive line, thank God for them," Winston said. "Two rookies, (DE) J.J. Watt playing everywhere … to be able to protect me the way they did is very promising."
TURF TROUBLE: The Texans installed an AstroTurf surface at NRG Stadium after issues with their grass field, and Sunday's game was the first played on it. Bucs CB Johnthan Banks left the game on Houston's second drive with a left leg injury suffered when a toe got caught in the field, and he said the surface played a role. "Bad plant. Toe got stuck in the ground, tried to pivot out," Banks said. "I don't now. I think it was the turf."
The Bucs' other starting corner, Tim Jennings, left the game with a bruised knee, but he, too, should be fine. That left Mike Jenkins and Alterraun Verner — the latter benched from a starting role for the first time since 2011 — as the only corners.
THIS AND THAT: Before his three missed field goals, rookie K Kyle Brindza hit a 58-yarder, the second longest in Bucs history, trailing Matt Bryant's 62-yarder in 2006. … Not only were the Bucs penalized 10 times for 84 yards, giving the Texans four first downs on penalties, but they also had four defensive penalties declined. S Chris Conte had nine tackles but also was flagged twice for 15-yard face mask penalties, both on what ended up being scoring drives for Houston. … Bucs RB Charles Sims, who is from Houston and played collegiately at Houston, scored his first NFL touchdown on a 32-yard screen pass from Winston in the second quarter. … Bucs WR Vincent Jackson had a quiet game with two catches for 40 yards, but he did reach 500 career catches, one of 14 active players to do so.