The Texans are steam rolling towards their first AFC South title, and Sunday in Tampa they once again took care of business against a team that was looking for a statement win.
Matt Schaub had another solid game for the Texans, throwing for two touchdowns, Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward ran for scores Sunday as the AFC South-leaders forced four turnovers and sacked Josh Freeman four times in a 37-9 victory over the Bucs.
The Texans, who are now 7-3, extended their winning streak while playing without star receiver Andre Johnson to four consecutive games, matching a franchise mark set in 2009 to head into their bye week with their best-ever record through 10 games.
The Bucs (4-5) have lost three straight and four of five following a 3-1 start.
Jacoby Jones filled in for Johnson with an 80-yard TD reception on the first play from scrimmage and Foster turned a short pass into his second 78-yard scoring reception of the season for Houston. A defense that’s made a dramatic turnaround under coordinator Wade Phillips had three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
Houston has limited opponents to just over 10 points per game got ya just asking ….during its winning streak.
Foster and Tate each ran for over 100 yards to key last week’s 30-12 victory over Cleveland. They weren’t as successful running this time, however the Texans did finish with 185 yards on the ground. Foster gained 84 on 17 carries and Tate wound up with 63 on 13 carries, including an 11-yard TD burst to make it 37-9 with under six minutes remaining.
Tampa Bay scored on Connor Barth’s 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half and didn’t get into the end zone until Freeman threw a 9-yard TD pass to Preston Parker early in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth made his debut for the Bucs, blocking an extra point after Houston’s first touchdown and finishing with five tackles.
Haynesworth was released by New England on Tuesday, claimed off waivers Wednesday and practiced with his new team for the first time on Thursday. Gerald McCoy’s season-ending injury left the Bucs thin on the offensive line, and with backup Frank Okam still sidelined by a sore calf, the 350-pound Haynesworth moved right into the starting lineup.
A week after rushing for a club-record 261 yards during a 30-12 victory over Cleveland, the Texans came out throwing on a Bucs defense that has struggled to stop the run and had to honor Schaub’s play-action fakes. A wide-open Jacoby Jones caught an underthrown ball at the Tampa Bay 45 on the first play from scrimmage, cut back to his left between safeties Tanard Jackson and Sean Jackson and sprinted to the end zone to finish Houston’s longest scoring play of the season.
Foster’s long TD reception nearly covered as much ground and also involved some nifty running after the catch. The third-year running back took a short throw from Schaub, broke a tackle and headed up the left sideline before cutting inside near midfield to avoid Sean Jones and easily outrun the remaining pursuit.
Houston’s first three scoring drives covered 80, 80 and 90 yards. Foster had four receptions for 102 yards.
Schaub only attempted three passes after halftime, finishing 11 of 15 for 242 yards and no interceptions. One apparent pick at the Tampa Bay goal line was reversed following a replay review that showed that intended receiver Derrick Mason jarred the ball loose from Talib before the Bucs cornerback gained control. Neil Rackers kicked a 22-yard field goal on the next play for a 9-0 lead.
Freeman completed 15 of 35 passes for 170 yards. The Texans limited LeGarrette Blount to 34 yards rushing on 10 attempts.