Bucs Turn Over Texans

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September 3, 2004
Bucs Turn Over Texans

by Keith Weiland

When a team loses by eight points, it’s tough to imagine that they accomplished their main objective, but the Texans can say just that after falling to the Buccaneers at home, 17-9. They left the field without significant injury, something they were unable to say too many times during the 2003 season.

The game did, however, close out the preseason with a third consecutive loss, leaving many questions still open as to whether this young franchise has progressed far enough to win as many games as they lose.

The starters did not see much time on the field against the Bucs, as evidenced by running back Domanick Davis’ single carry for eight yards. Their backups, however, saw a Buccaneer offense capable of controlling the ball and gaining good yardage through the air.

The Bucs led the battle for time of possession by nearly ten minutes, as their offense converted 10 of their 16 third down attempts. Bucs passers were efficient and productive, completing almost 65 percent of their passes and contribution to a total of 380 yards of offense.

The Texans were not quite so effective. They rushed for only 34 yards on the ground after Davis left for the sideline, while quarterback Tony Banks struggled to sustain any touchdown drives.

The Bucs began the scoring when they put three points on the board following a stout goalline stand by the Texans defense. The defense was unable to rest though, A fumbled exchange between Banks and running back Tony Hollings deep in their own territory led to a quick touchdown, widening the Bucs’ lead to 10-0.

Hollings sparked a scoring drive near the end of the first half with a 14-yard gain off right tackle to midfield. A pass complete to Derick Armstrong set up a long field goal attempt by Kris Brown, putting the Texans on the scoreboard, down 10-3, at halftime.

Third-string quarterback Chris Simms entered the game in the third quarter for the Bucs and completed four passes on his first drive, including a 6-yard touchdown completion to tight end Will Heller. The score stretched the Tampa Bay lead to fourteen points, 17-3.

The Texans’ offense could only muster a pair of field goals in response, failing to get into the endzone for any second half touchdowns in the entire preseason.

Next up, the Texans open their regular season schedule at home against the Chargers. The team will be looking to extend their steak of Week One victories to three.

What Went Right?

Kris Brown Brown completed a perfect preseason by making all three of his field goal attempts against the Bucs. His first attempt was good from 44 yards, a field goal he had to make twice due to an illegal formation penalty by the Texans. Brown later converted attempts from 43 and 38 yards. His pièce de résistance came late in the third quarter, chipping a surprise onsides kickoff high in the air for the Texans’ Glenn Earl to recover.

Derick Armstrong Armstrong had possibly the most impressive preseason out of all of the Texans’ receivers, and that trend continued against the Bucs. Armstrong caught four balls for 48 yards, each reception showing off tremendous body control and a confident pair of hands. Armstrong has been a go-to target for all three of the team’s quarterbacks when the offense needed a key completion. Armstrong delivered twice on third downs, including a 19-yard reception he made midway through the second quarter on third-and-one.

No Injuries Perhaps the biggest goal of any NFL team in the final preseason game is for everyone to walk off the field healthy enough to be ready for the first regular season game. The Texans were able to do just that, though there were a couple tense moments. RB Tony Hollings suffered a thigh bruise late in the first half, but was on a bike minutes later, and LB Antwan Peek suffered a minor leg injury in the game’s final two minutes. The team will, however, enter their Week One matchup against the Chargers will all of their players available for duty, something which cannot be understated after last season’s injury nightmare.

What Went Wrong?

Tony Banks His stats appeared to be acceptable, as Banks completed 9 of 14 passes for 96 yards, but don’t be fooled. He was off-balance, off-target, and generally just off his game. His passes lacked any touch, and he was unable to orchestrate any touchdown drives, not just in the Bucs’ game, but in the entire preseason. Banks’ game management was lackluster, and he was unable to even take advantage of good field position to put the Texans into the end zone.

Pass Defense The Texans sat rookie Dunta Robinson, but despite some of his early struggles, his presence would have helped. The Texans first team defense surrendered 109 passing yards in little more than a quarter of work as the pass rush rarely reached the Tampa Bay QBs. Backup QB Brian Griese, who had had a poor preseason up to this point, was effective against the Texans’ zone coverage. He completed 12 of 16 for 110 yards and a score. The Bucs were missing Keenan McCardell and Tim Brown from their receiving corps, but they found their tight ends on both of their touchdowns, something which defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will need to account for in the regular season.

Kenny Wright Wright is unfairly singled out here, but he did not have a stellar performance. Covering rookie Michael Clayton, Wright didn’t close fast enough to prevent a first down reception on third-and-11 to force a punt. Wright then gave up a 33-yard pass to Charles Lee to close the third quarter. Perhaps his most discouraging play of the game came on the Bucs’ final touchdown drive. RB Michael Pittman carried the ball upfield and easily shed Wright’s attempted tackle to rumble 27 yards down to the Texans’ own 9-yard line.

Key Play Of The Game

That big run by Pittman to set up the final Buccaneer score could arguably be the key play of the game since it put the Texans down by 14 in the third quarter. Even worse though is an offensive turnover deep in your own territory.

The Texans’ defense had just completed a gutty goalline stand to force a Tampa Bay field goal when Tony Banks entered the game on the next possession. On the second play from scrimmage, second-and-8 from the 22-yard line, Banks took the snap from under center, and faked a look downfield as if he were readying himself to pass.

Banks instead turned to RB Tony Hollings and the two of them fumbled the exchange. Bucs lineman Oliver Gibson fell on the loose ball and returned it to the Texans’ 11-yard line. The turnover set up a Bucs TD pass to increase their lead to ten. The fumbled handoff was the second of the preseason for Banks and Hollings.

Preseason Week 4 Recap Mario Edwards intercepts a pass from David Carr intended for Corey Bradford. Final Score Houston Texans 9 Tampa Bay Bucs 17 Lookin’ Good

Kendrick Starling
Starling keeps putting himself on enough gamefilm in an effort to make this roster. He caught three passes for 48 yards, including a nice leaping catch for 32 yards in the fourth quarter. Starling also made noise in punt coverage, popping returner Mark Jones with his shoulder for a minimal gain.

Oh, my eyes!

Seth Wand/Moran Norris
These two combined for a breakdown in pass protection that resulted in LB Ian Gold getting to Carr in time to alter his throw and force an interception. Wand misread a blitz, allowing Gold into the backfield with only Norris to beat. Gold whipped past Norris’ left side to whack Carr, who had Bradford wide open deep downfield.

2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27  09.19 at Detroit 16-28  09.26 at Kansas City 24-21  10.03 Oakland 30-17  10.10 Minnesota 28-34  10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 Bye   10.31 Jacksonville 20-6  11.07 at Denver 13-31  11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22   Overall Record 7-9