HOUSTON, TX – Yes, it’s only preseason, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used it as a tune up as Tom Brady and Company dominated the Houston Texans 23-16 at NRG Stadium.
Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians decided to play his starters for three series each as they get ready to defend their Super Bowl Championship status in the 2021-22.
The result was their first win of the preseason after losing to Cincinnati and Tennessee in the first two games.
The Bucs started with an unimpressive opening drive that resulted in a punt, but Brady caught fire after that.
“[I was] pleased with everything but the first series on offense,” said Arians after the game. “We can’t start against Dallas [in Week One] with a penalty and a three-and-out, giving them field position. But other than that, we had a nice rhythm. I loved the speed of the defense, the speed of the offense once we got going. I saw the things I wanted to see. I didn’t see anymore.”
Brady orchestrated touchdown drives of 91 and 93 yards in the first quarter and left the game with 154 yards on 11-of-14 passing and a 136.3 passer rating. Brady completed multiple passes to all three of his primary receivers – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown – with Godwin leading the way with three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Running back Ronald Jones added 27 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Brady completed 10 consecutive passes during one stretch and had little trouble finding his talented receivers in the clear and on the run.
“We really haven’t played that much, so just get our feel and get out there and get some rhythm.” Said Brady “The O-Line did a great job in protection and the receivers all made plays so it was just good to spread the ball around and get into a little flow. It was good to score and good to win.”
Tampa’s defense managed to keep Houston and quarterback Tyrod Taylor in check, pitching a shut out. They did managed an 18 yard drive which ended without points on a failed fourth-down conversion, apparently because kicker Kai’mi Fairbairn was held out due to a minor injury. Lavonte David led the way with eight tackles in the first quarter alone.
“It felt really good to be back out there and make some plays,” said Godwin. “We really needed to come out here and show some cohesion, really needed to start putting some drives together.
Some young players stepped up, others didn’t,” said Arians. “We’ve got some rookies that the game is still a little big for. We’ll continue to coach with them and hopefully we won’t have to play them.”
Rookie outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka forced one of the Buccaneers’ five defensive takeaways with a strip-sack of Taylor in the second quarter, part of a night that included four tackles, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. First-year cornerback Herb Miller created another turnover with an impressive interception in the same period cornerback Dee Delaney completed the trio of first-half takeaways with a minute to play before the break, setting up a short drive that ended in 36-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jose Borregales. Delaney later picked off another pass in the final two minutes of the game to seal the win. In the second half, safety Javon Hagan and outside linebacker Ladarius Hamilton each recorded sacks, with Hagan’s resulting in a lost fumble by Mills.