Texans 23, Bucs 20

Texans vs Bucs: Good, bad and ugly

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In a must-win to lock up the AFC South, the Texans took care of business in Tampa against the Bucs with a 23-20 win. It got ugly early and almost got away from them when the Bucs mounted a comeback. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The defense opened the game with back to back picks on Tampa's first two possessions. Bradley Roby broke on an out route and returned it for a touchdown. Then Justin Reid read Jameis Winston's eyes as he was roaming as the single high safety and picked him off again. That was the extent of the defenses contributions, except...

-...Angelo Blackson has been balling lately! He shed several blocks to help stuff the run game and blocked a kick. He blocked a kick last week as well. Blackson has been championed since his arrival by Jayson Braddock. He was the first guy I remember saying look out for Blackson. I've kept my eye on him and he's been the best interior defensive lineman on the Texans' roster not named D.J. Reader.

-Just when I was done with the defense, Jaleel Addae made a game-saving interception as the Bucs were driving and down by three. Addae is a Tampa native who last played in Raymond James Stadium as a nine-year old kid. For him to seal the game and send his team to the playoffs after the rough year he's had and the terrible game they played today was awesome to see.

The Bad

-Ronald Jones took a run 49 yards to flip field position on their third possession. Blackson made a great play to shed a block and get down the line, but couldn't make the stop in the gap. His teammates in the defensive backfield made poor attempts at tackling giving him a much bigger gain. The run defense and tackling has to be on point if the coverage and pass rush are sketchy. Benardrick McKinney was missed today on that play.

-The coverage was dumpster juice against the Bucs. They were playing with guys making their first career starts, first career game, and guys who have less than 50-100 career receptions. Still, they were routinely beat on every route in the route tree. Had it not been for Winston's fractured thumb on his throwing hand, he would've completed several more passes and this game would've looked more like the Broncos score instead of the way it did.

-While Deshaun Watson held onto the ball and tried to make things happen, his offensive line let him down a few times. One play in particular that pissed me off was in the third quarter when Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Watson because his Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil appeared to quit on the play! Had Tunsil simply kept moving his feet and stayed with Pierre-Paul, Watson could've made something happen! And to think, this guy will want to get paid a contract that'll set a new standard for left tackles.

The Ugly

-Getting the ball on Tampa's 24 yard line and settling for a field goal is awful. This offense has to get more consistent at moving the ball. It's not like they were asked to drive the length of the field on their opening possession to score. The slow starts, particularly opening possessions, is a red flag heading into the playoffs where points will come at a premium.

-The first half featured a combined 34 points aided by six turnovers and a blocked field goal. There were so many mistakes, bad throws, missed tackles, among other errors. Most striking of all these was the fact that the Texans' defense was let down by the offense and vice versa. The defense couldn't stop the Bucs and the offense couldn't move the ball.

-Will Fuller got hurt again. What a shocker right? This guy's soft tissues must be made of silly string or something. This time, it was a groin injury that prevented him from returning to the game. I imagine he'll be out next week and questionable for the Wildcard game in the playoffs. It's time to move on from this guy

Well that didn't turn out the way it looked like it would now did it? When a team starts a game with a pick six on the second play from scrimmage, followed by another on the next possession, one would assume the team doing the picking off would win going away right? But when that team is the Texans, things are anything but normal/safe/assured. They remind me of that one friend who insists on doing things their way despite being given advice on a better way to do them. Deshaun Watson made some more poor choices and throws (that interception made me cringe). Bill O'Brien made more strange play calls and choices (not challenging or going for it on 4th down with under three minutes left in the game up 23-20 and passing instead of running to open that drive). Too many question marks going into this game and none were answered. They left with more questions and are two weeks away from the playoffs. But AFC South champs four of six years under O'Brien (insert your own shrug emoji here).

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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