Despite a lackluster offensive performance, the Texans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 to win the AFC South for the fourth time in the last five years. They will host a first-round playoff game on Jan. 4 or 5.
With the score tied 20-20 with 12:01 to go in the game, the Texans began a 10-play drive culminating in a Ka’imi Fairbairn 37-yard field goal. The kick gave the Texans a 23-20 lead with 7:05 to go in the game. The key play on the drive was a 39-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Carter on a third down and six play.
“That was a huge play. DeAndre can play. He is a plug-n-play type of player. He can return punts and play receiver. He made a big play,” Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Buccaneers then drove to the Texans 40 yard line before the Texans defense stopped them on a fourth down and three play to take over the ball with 3:34 to go in the game.
The Buccaneers got the ball back with 2:21 to go, but Jahleel Addae intercepted quarterback Jameis Winston with 1:27 to go in the game to clinch the win. The interception was the fourth one by the Texans as Bradley Roby, Justin Reid and Johnathan Joseph intercepted Winston in the first half. Roby’s interception was a pick-six on the second play of the game, and Reid also recovered a fumble. Whitney Mercilus had two sacks and a tackle for a loss.
“We played good defense today. Whitney works really hard. He is at the facility early and is an excellent teammate. He had great sacks today,” O’Brien said.
Deshaun Watson completed 19 of 32 passes for 184 yards with one interception and he also rushed seven times for 37 yards. His quarterback rating was 62.5.
“It feels great to win the division. We had to go out there and work hard for the win. This (the division) is not our ultimate goal. We will celebrate this, but we need to prepare for next week, and then the playoffs. We did what we had to do to get the W. It’s a blessing,” Watson said.
Kenny Stills had five receptions for 57 yards, and Carlos Hyde rushed 17 times for 27 yards and one touchdown.
For the Buccaneers, Winston completed 25 of 48 passes for 335 yards and one touchdown. His quarterback rating was 46.8. Ronald Jones II rushed 14 times for 77 yards and one touchdown, and Breshad Perriman caught seven passes for 102 yards. The Buccaneers were playing without their two pro bowl receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
“Anytime you win a division, it’s a big game. We have won the division four out of the last five years. We are a hardworking and very resilient team. The players played hard, and they really care about each other. It was a good team win,” O’Brien said.
The Texans (10-5) close out the regular season next Sunday against the Tennessee Titans (8-6) at NRG Stadium.
14:19: Texans: Bradley Roby 27-yard interception return. Ka’imi Fairbairn kick.
Texans 7, Buccaneers 0
11:34: Texans: Fairbairn 32-yard field goal.
Drive: 6 plays, 10 yards, 1:40
Texans 10, Buccaneers 0
1:01: Buccaneers: Matt Gay 50-yard field goal.
Drive: 9 plays, 58 yards, 3:42.
Texans 10, Buccaneers 3
9:22: Texans: Carlos Hyde 1-yard run. Fairbairn kick.
Drive: 7 plays, 42 yards, 2:54
Texans 17, Buccaneers 3
1:57: Buccaneers: Ronald Jones 4-yard run. Gay kick.
Drive: 9 plays, 81 yards, 3:16.
Texans 17, Buccaneers 10
0:13: Buccaneers: Justin Watson 8-yard pass from Jameis Winston. Gay kick.
Drive: 5 plays, 39 yards, 0:29.
Texans 17, Buccaneers 17
9:30: Texans: Fairbairn 25-yard field goal.
Drive: 14 plays, 68 yards, 5:27.
Texans 20, Buccaneers 17
1:15: Buccaneers: Gay 41-yard field goal.
Drive: 16 plays, 57 yards, 8:12.
Texans 20, Buccaneers 20
7:11: Texans: Fairbairn 37-yard field goal.
Drive: 10 plays, 69 yards, 4:45.
Texans 23, Buccaneers 20