KRISTIE RIEKEN – Tom Brady threw for 154 yards and a touchdown in just more than a quarter and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a 23-16 win over the Houston Texans on Saturday night.
It was by far his most extensive work this preseason after the seven-time Super Bowl champion played just six snaps in a loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago and sat out last week against in a loss to Tennessee.
Brady got off to a slow start, throwing two incompletions on his first drive before a punt by Tampa Bay. He got going on the next possession when he completed seven consecutive passes, capped by a 24-yard touchdown throw to Chris Godwin. The extra point was blocked to put the Buccaneers up 6-0.
He stuck with Godwin to start the next drive, connecting on a 32-yard pass on the last play of the first quarter. Tampa Bay extended the lead to 13-0 on a 13-yard run by Ronald Jones II and Brady was replaced by Blaine Gabbert after that.
Tyrod Taylor failed to move the offense effectively for Houston in three drives, going 6 of 9 for 31 yards. He’s expected to be Houston’s starter this season with star Deshaun Watson’s future with the team in question after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them.
Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, leaving Watson’s future with the team uncertain. Even before all that Watson requested a trade earlier this year. Watson was not seen on the sideline Saturday.
Houston’s defense scored the team’s first points when DeMarcus Walker sacked Gabbert in the end zone for a safety that made it 13-2.
The Texans recovered two fumbles and had an interception Saturday to give them 10 takeaways this preseason. Houston was last in the league with nine last season, and new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith has made it a priority in camp to improve that number.
Third-round draft pick Davis Mills replaced Taylor after three possessions and was 10 of 27 for 106 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His 11-yard pass to Nico Collins cut the lead to 16-10 in the third quarter and he found Jordan Veasy for a 9-yard score that got Houston within 23-16 early in the fourth.
Second-round pick Kyle Trask finished the game for Tampa Bay and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Corey McElroy between the two TD passes by Mills.
Tampa Bay DL Ndamukong Suh was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday and did not travel to Houston.
JUST KICKIN’ IT
Houston K Kaʻimi Fairbairn was held out for a minor injury, leaving safety Justin Reid, who often practices extra points and field goals before practice for fun, to kick off Saturday.
Reid handled three kickoffs and they were for 65, 61 and 48 yards. The second one was impressive because Reid made the tackle with Rasul Douglas after his kick.
The Texans did not let Reid attempt a field goal despite it appearing he was campaigning to do so. They went on fourth down six times and attempted 2-point conversions on both of their touchdowns.
Tampa Bay: hosts Dallas in the NFL season opener Sept. 9.
Houston: hosts Jacksonville and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence in the opener Sept. 12.