Houston backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels had the best day of his NFL career completing 27 of 36 for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns in a season saving performance for the Texans. Rosenfels had a perfect 158.3 QB rating two years ago in a game against the Chiefs, but that was based on completing his only attempt in the game for a touchdown. Although their chances of getting an AFC wild card are admittedly slim, Houston kept themselves from mathematical elimination by beating the Bucs this week. Had the Texans lost, they would have had a potential season record of 8-8 at best with a 2-4 division record, not good enough to beat Cleveland for sixth seed even if the Browns lost their 3 remaining games.
There were two turnovers on fumbles by both sides but the last one by Bucs QB Luke McCown was both the costliest and the dumbest. A mental error, a lack of coordination between the center and the quarterback resulted in the ball being snapped when Luke was looking elsewhere. The football bounced off McCown’s leg and was recovered by Houston safety C.C. Brown who returned it to the Tampa Bay 17 and set up an easy drive for Rosenfels. That fumble came just 3 plays after Tampa Bay had stripped the football from Rosenfels for the second time in the game and recovered it on the Bucs 25 yard line, ending a 70 yard drive that began on the Houston 15 yard line. Had Tampa Bay driven for a TD instead of turning the football over the game would have been tied.
Houston’s cause was helped by a pair of Andre’s. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson who has given the team a huge boost since coming back in Week 11 after missing seven games, had 9 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. And Andre Davis, who is known for being one of the fastest players (if not the fastest) on the Houston squad took a kickoff at his own three yard line and after waiting patiently for his blockers to set up the wedge took it 97 yards down the sideline for a touchdown without a Tampa Bay defender so much as laying a finger on him. Wide receiver Kevin Walter and tight end Owen Daniels rounded out the offensive effort with one TD catch each, neither had caught more than 2 TD’s all season. The Texans defense came up big as well sacking McCown four times, three of those coming in the 4th quarter when the Bucs were desperately trying to overcome a two touchdown deficit.
You can’t feel too sorry for Tampa Bay. At 8-5 they have the NFC South all but locked up. Their remaining schedule includes two clubs with 3-10 records and a Carolina team that is struggling at 5-8 and has lost six of their last seven games. The Bucs don’t figure to be in danger of missing the playoffs, but without a bit more consistency on fundamentals and execution one has to wonder what they’ll do when they get there.