This was a game the Buccaneers should have and could have won.
When you hold one of the best quarterbacks in the league to just 184 yards passing with zero touchdowns, and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to five catches for 23 yards, you put yourself in position to win the game.
Jameis Winston and his turnovers were again the story of the game as Winston threw four picks in the 23-20 loss to the Texans.
You had the feeling it was going to be that kind of day when on the second play of the game, Winstons pass intended for Ishmael Hyman was picked off by Justin Reid who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and the Texans took a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
It would be an uphill climb from that point on for the Bucs as they would go down 17-3 before rallying to tie the game 17-17 at the half.
Winston threw three of his four picks in the first half and the final one trying to make a play with less than one minute to go in the game.
Winston finished the game 25/48 335 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Winston now has 31 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions on the season. That is the most interceptions in a season since Brett Favre threw 29 in 2005.
In his post game press conference, Winston kept saying over and over that he has to take better care of the football. “Just can’t do it” meaning the turnovers. “My primary focus is going into a football game and having a turnover-free football game. That’s my primary focus. When I do that, I’m going to be a good quarterback. A great quarterback.”
Winston knows that the Bucs will never reach their full potential as a team until the turnovers stop.
There was a report on the NFL network today that the Bucs had made a decision to bring Winston back in 2020. When asked about it today Arians said “There’s been no decision on any player. We don’t make those decisions until the season is over.”
As for the possibility of staying in Tampa, Winston said “I love Tampa. I love this community. I definitely want to be here. But personally, I want to protect the football and I know that if I do that, I will be here.”
The turnovers by Winston put a damper on what was another outstanding performance by the Bucs defense and possibly was the best performance of the season by this defense.
The defense sacked Texans quarterback five times three of those by Jason Pierre-Paul giving him a total of 6.5 sacks on the season despite missing the first six games.
Jamel Dean had a key interception of Watson in the third quarter that was returned 31 yards.
As Bruce Arians said in his post game press conference, “The defense played winning football, the offense and special teams did not.”
Running back Ronald Jones had his best game of the season breaking a run for 49 yards and finishing with 77 yards on the ground with one touchdown, and had three catches for 32 yards.
The Bucs were also playing without their top two offensive playmakers in wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Evans in done for the season, Godwin may be as well.
Breshad Perriman stepped up and had his second consecutive 100 yard receiving game as he finished with 102 receiving yards.
The Bucs offense left some plays on the field, as Winston seemed to just miss a wide open Perriman and Justin Watson in the end zone on consecutive plays.
Tight end Cameron Brate dropped a fourth down pass that was right in his hands and would have given the Bucs a first down late in the fourth quarter. The sure handed Brate who has some of the best hands on the team said “I just didn’t come through for the team.”
In the next 24 hours the Bucs will put this one behind them and get ready for the Atlanta Falcons in the season finale next week and a chance to finish the season at 8-8.