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Winners, losers from Texans’ gritty 23-20 win over Buccaneers

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans were in Florida Saturday for a road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and this game did not play out the way anyone expected.

A wild first half that saw six turnovers ended in a 17-17 tie. Houston and Tampa Bay traded field goals in a third quarter that was defined by long drives and ended in a 20-20 tie. Finally, in the fourth quarter, Houston did just enough to pull ahead and stay ahead, winning by the score of 23-20.

These are the biggest winners and losers from the Texans’ win over the Buccaneers Saturday.

Winner: Texans clinch AFC South

It was ugly. But in the end, wins count the same, whether they’re gorgeous or not. Houston, improving to 10-5 on the season, clinched a playoff spot by winning the AFC South.

The Texans have a lot of work in front of them to improve in the next couple weeks if they have any intention of advancing deep into the postseason. But getting into the tournament is an important first step, and this team can be dangerous when everyone’s on the same page.

Loser: Jameis Winston doomed the Bucs

Jameis Winston’s first pass attempt of Saturday’s game ended with Texans cornerback Bradley Roby celebrating a touchdown after a pick-six (watch here). Two attempts later, on the next drive, he threw another interception, after which the Texans converted a field goal to go up 10-0. Then early in the second quarter, following a Texans fumble, he threw his third interception of the game.

As usual, Winston also showed off his talented arm with some jaw-dropping throws an finished with 335 yards while throwing a touchdown, and the Bucs came back and had a chance to win late.

But then, with a chance to win late in the fourth quarter, Winston threw his fourth pick of the game.

Dagger. Game over.

Winner: RoJo went off

Ronald Jones had an outstanding game. The USC product, who was in Dirk Koetter’s dog house last year, is emerging as the best back on Tampa Bay’s roster and had a big impact on the game Saturday.

It started with a 49-yard gem of a run in the first quarter that was extended by quite a bit when Jones stiff-armed a defender to the turf (watch here). He continued to rip off big chunks on the ground, finishing with 109 yards and one touchdown on 17 touches from scrimmage.

Loser: Houston’s offensive line was a disaster

As many chances as Jameis Winston gave the Texans on offense, it was pretty crazy how little they were able to do. The biggest reason Houston didn’t blow out the Bucs Saturday was that the team’s offensive line was a huge problem.

Deshaun Watson was unable to get comfortable in the pocket because almost every time he dropped back to pass he was under pressure. Houston’s run game was also shut down due to Tampa Bay’s front seven dominating the line of scrimmage. Outside of Watson’s 37 yards on scrambles, the Texans managed just 29 yards on 19 carries.

While the Texans clinched the AFC South with a win, this is a problem that will haunt them if they don’t fix it quickly.

Winner: Jason Pierre-Paul dominated

In his previous eight games, Pierre-Paul had 3.5 total sacks. On Saturday against the Texans, the defensive end almost doubled his seasonal total with three sacks.

It’s only been a couple of months since Pierre-Paul made his 2019 debut following a car accident this past spring that left him with a fractured neck. He’s overcome so much in his career, and it’s just astonishing to see Pierre-Paul continue to come back and play so well.