In failing to secure their first Week 16 win since 2010, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to 7-8 on the season. Of course, this did nothing to their already non-existent playoff chances.
What this game did do, was give the Houston Texans another AFC South Championship, and secured their seat in the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs as they'll continue their pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy in January.
Bucs fans haven’t witnessed their team in post-season action for far too long. Texans fans aren’t afflicted as much. And hanging out with the playoff accustomed fan base was an interesting experience.
Come with me, on a journey into the mind of a fan base who’s team has secured a playoff spot with one week left in the regular season.
WARNING: NSFW LANGUAGE CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS
Fan comments from www.battleredblog.com
This title was as simple as it was unusual. During the winning streak, most of the fan bases rooting for the Bucs’ opponent was beat down, disgruntled, and bracing for let down. But not this one. The Houston Texans group was excited to see their team play on Saturday, trying to clinch a playoff spot.
Pre-Game Hype Leads to Early Game Excitement
Many of us have made some jokes in recent weeks about Jameis Winston’s first drive interceptions. He threw another one this weekend, but it wasn’t as funny, as Bucs fans watched Bradley Roby return the interception all the way back for the first touchdown of the game.
Texans fans, were quite entertained by the development.
It Wasn’t Funny the First Time
If you didn’t laugh about the first one, you definitely didn’t laugh at the second one. A penalty overturned the touchdown which came at the end of Winston’s second interception in as many drives. But this fact was probably little consolation for those hoping to see a clean-ish performance against a playoff team from their Buccaneers squad.
In Tampa Bay’s Defense.....
The saving grace all day, and the only reason the Bucs had a chance to pull this one out in spite of everything, was the defense.
Holding the Texans to a field goal after their second interception was a big blow to the early momentum built by the opposing side. Fans of the visiting team, showed their angst early, as this lack of first drive touchdown is nothing new.
At Least Things Couldn’t Get - Oh...….
Just when Bucs fans settled in for what was surely an improved Week 16 effort after the first two drives, Tampa Bay’s offense got within field goal range. As the trusty rookie, Matt Gay trotted onto the field. Thoughts about playing in a 10-3 game didn’t seem as bad as a 10-0 game with two early turnovers. But then...
Getting Points, the Angry Way
Following the blocked field goal, the Buccaneers defense forced the Texans offense to punt following a Darren Fells fumble which was prematurely blown dead. Thanks, ref.
Still, Tampa Bay’s offense was able to get into field goal range for the second-straight possession aided by a 27-yard completion to Breshad Perriman, and a 19-yard connection with Dare Ogunbowale on a critical 3rd and 2.
Matt Gay made this 50-yard attempt, as it got off clean and sailed through the uprights. Good news, right? It would have been, had it not followed a stumbling missed touchdown opportunity by Justin Watson, and a just too long touchdown pass attempt by Jameis Winston. What a frustrating way to get on the scoreboard.
Equally frustrated however, was the Texans fanbase, who felt their team should have had a bigger lead than just seven points.
Texans Always Have Had a Flair for the Dramatic
With less than one minute left in the first quarter, there were two interceptions returned for touchdowns (one called back on a penalty), a blocked field goal, two made field goals, and it was 10-3 in favor of the Houston Texans.
Before we got one full minute into the second quarter, Duke Johnson would fumble the ball, and give the Buccaneers an opportunity to tie the game despite everything that occurred in the first quarter.
Understandably, Texans fans were beside themselves...
...and apparently, Jameis Winston couldn’t believe it either. And since he wasn’t ready to be on the field just yet, he gave the ball back to the Texans, throwing his third interception on the very next play.
Believe Them When They Tell You Who They Are
Houston’s offense punted after three plays and no first downs. Once again, the Buccaneers offense found themselves on the field. For some reason though, they just couldn’t believe the Texans hadn’t scored. So Peyton Barber did the honors this time, and gave Deshaun Watson’s crew one more shot at getting in the end zones.
Texans Couldn’t Hyde Their Intentions Any Longer
After getting turned back twice for not scoring, the Houston Texans finally gave in and scored a touchdown.
Carlos Hyde punched it in from one-yard out for Houston’s first offensive visit to the end zone in Week 16.
When Winning Isn’t Enough
Bucs fans would have loved to be up at this point in the game. Instead, their team was down 17-3 with halftime looming as the Buccaneers took the ball on their own 19-yard line with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Just over three minutes later, the Tampa Bay offense put a touchdown on the board following their most complete drive of the game. Winston connected with Perriman on a 3rd and 3 for 13-yards. Codey McElroy got his first catch in his first game active, and took it down to the Houston Texans’ four-yard line after a gain of 30.
Then, Ronald Jones carried the ball over the goal line from there, and with less than one minute left in the first half the Buccaneers trailed by just one touchdown.
Deshaun Watson Convinced He’s Jameis Winston
Those watching television broadcast were going nuts over Rich Eisen’s inability to keep the two quarterbacks’ last names straight. Well, it didn’t get any easier as Watson (the Texans’ quarterback) threw an interception with just 42-seconds left before halftime, in a one score game.
No Harm, No Foul?
Following Jamel Dean’s interception of a Deshaun Watson pass, Winston drove his offense down the field in 29-seconds and found the Buccaneers’ Watson (Justin Watson), for a game tying 8-yard touchdown pass with just thirteen seconds left in the first half.
Just like they drew it up.
A Tale of Two Halves: Chapter 1
If the first half was a series of Indy car laps around the track, the second half was a race around the lazy river. Without floaties.
The Houston Texans offense used 5:30 seconds of the third quarter to open the post halftime scoring...with a field goal.
Not sure by these comments if Texans fans were excited to have the lead again, or if they were just happy something happened after the longest drive of the game.
Longest Drive of the Game, So Far!
Since the Texans decided to milk more than five minutes off the game clock with their first drive of the second half, the Buccaneers decided to drain more than eight minutes on their own.
Eight minutes and thirteen seconds to be exact, and the exact same result. Matt Gay’s field goal brought the game back to a thrilling 20-20 tie.
Chapter 2: Foot-Ball
The second half quickly broke out into a game of kickers as dueling field goals were followed up by dueling punts. Then, the Texans decided to make the next move by adding another field goal. The Texans fans rejoiced. Well, one of them did.
The Fall of Ol’ Reliable
Everyone agrees death and taxes are inevitable. Apparently, so is Thanos. Before Saturday, one more thing Bucs fans would have called inevitable, would be Cameron Brate bringing in a clutch catch when his team needs him most.
After Saturday I’m sure fans of the team still love him, but his inevitability is a little less sure after he allowed a pass fall the field, which would have converted a fourth down try with less than four minutes remaining.
Defense Isn’t Finished
Some could argue the Buccaneers offense never really fully arrived to the game in Week 16. But the defense sure did. And in the final moments of the game, it was the defense which gave their team a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Jason Pierre-Paul came through with his third sack of the game, and the Houston Texans punted the ball back to the Buccaneers, up just three with two minutes and twenty-one seconds remaining.
Someone in Tampa is Happy
The Buccaneers had six drives which lasted less than one minute on Saturday. Two of them came in their final two drives of the game, down by three points.
On their last possession, Winston and his offense had the ball on their own four-yard line with 21-seconds left. Not much of a chance to do anything there.
The one before that however, started on their own ten yard line. They had timeouts, and they had the two minute warning. It was an opportunity.
An opportunity which ended on their own 37-yard line, with almost a minute and a half still left on the clock. After Winston’s fourth interception of the day. The Texans went into celebration mode.
AFC South Champions. And headed for the playoffs. And it was area native, Jahleel Addae who sealed it, in Tampa.
There’s one game left in the 2019 campaign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been an improvement over the past two years’ 5-11 efforts. Hanging out in opposing comment sections has been quite the experience since we started doing it this season.
But I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t a little envious of the playoff talk happening with the Texans’ group. They won ugly against a Buccaneers team who lost uglier. Still, one of these teams is going to be vacationing in January while one will be trying to get their hands on a Super Bowl title.
Maybe next year.