Houston Texans, NFL

Texans win AFC South for 4th time in 5 years

By BILL McCAUGHEY, Special to the Times
Posted 12/21/19

Despite a lackluster offensive performance, the Texans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 on Saturday, Dec. 21, to win the AFC South for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Houston Texans, NFL

Texans win AFC South for 4th time in 5 years

Posted

Despite a lackluster offensive performance, the Texans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 on Saturday, Dec. 21, to win the AFC South for the fourth time in the last five years.

Houston will host a first-round playoff game on Jan. 4 or 5.

With the score tied at 20 with 12:01 left, the Texans (10-5) 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 left that they would not surrender.

The key play on the drive was a 39-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Carter on a 3rd-and-6 play.

“That was a huge play,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “DeAndre can play. He is a plug-and-play type of player. He can return punts and play receiver. He made a big play.”

The Buccaneers (7-8) drove to the Texans’ 40-yard line before the Houston defense stopped them on fourth down to take over the ball with 3:34 to go.

The Buccaneers got the ball back, but Jahleel Addae intercepted quarterback Jameis Winston with 87 seconds left to clinch the win. The interception was the fourth by the Texans as Bradley Roby, Justin Reid and Johnathan Joseph also 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,” O’Brien said. “Whitney works really hard. He is at the facility early and is an excellent teammate. He had great sacks today.”

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 19 of 32 passes for 184 yards with one interception and also rushed seven times for 37 yards. His quarterback rating was 62.5 on a day in which the offense produced one touchdown and needed three Fairbairn field goals.

“It feels great to win the division,” Watson said. “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.”

Texans receiver Kenny Stills had five receptions for 57 yards and running back Carlos Hyde rushed 17 times for 27 yards and one touchdown.

Winston completed 25 of 48 passes for 335 yards and one touchdown. His quarterback rating was 46.8. Bucs running back Ronald Jones II rushed 14 times for 77 yards and one touchdown, and receiver Breshad Perriman caught seven passes for 102 yards.

The Buccaneers were playing without their two Pro Bowl receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Houston was without receiver Keke Coutee and, for most of the game, Will Fuller, who left early with a groin injury.

The Texans won despite being outgained 435-229 in total yards. Houston averaged 3.6 yards per play to Tampa Bay’s six, and allowed 9-of-17 efficiency on third down.

The difference was the turnovers. Houston had two. Tampa Bay had five.

“Anytime you win a division, it’s a big game,” O’Brien said. “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.”

The Texans close out the regular season Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium.

Houston Texans, NFL

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