TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, and the Bucs are in Houston, eager to snap their three-game losing streak in what’s a homecoming of sorts for the Tampa Bay quarterback and star wide receiver.
After falling short of a miracle ending against the Bills in Buffalo last Thursday night, the Austin, Texas native arrived at NRG Stadium donning a cowboy hat, ready for business. Evans, who hails from Galveston, also showed up to the field rocking a Houston Astros jersey.
“Nothing like a three-game losing streak – go on the road [with our] backs against the wall against a team that has played I think better than everybody’s expectations. It’s going to be a fight for us, so go in and try to find a way to win in a tough environment and get this thing turned around,” Mayfield said ahead of Sunday’s Week 9 matchup.
Aside from the Bucs’ offense trying to get downfield in a more timely manner, the defense says they’re prepared and ready to face star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Texans.
“C.J. Stroud, he’s a rookie – most rookie quarterbacks, when you see them, you see them struggle in their first year. You don’t see that in C.J. It definitely makes it harder on us. He’s been doing a good job this year. He’s probably one of the best out of all the rookie quarterbacks that are playing right now. It’ll definitely be a big challenge for us,” Bucs’ nose tackle Vita Vea said.
While Stroud, the 2023 No. 2 overall draft pick out of Ohio State, has been excelling –Tampa Bay’s defense is prepared to stop him. The Bucs are at the top of the league in Red Zone defense, plus they’re No. 1 in the NFL in turnover margin.
In head coach Todd Bowles’s five seasons with the Bucs, their defense has gone 7-4 against rookie quarterbacks.
FINAL SCORE: Texans 39 – Buccaneers 37
0:06: Mayfield passes short right to Palmer for 14 yards. Lateral to Hainsey for -2 yards. Lateral to Otton for 4 yards. Ball is fumbled and recovered by Houston.
FUMBLES – RECOVERED by HOU-D.Houston-Carson at TB 41. D
0:10: Stroud passes middle to Dell for 15 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. Unsportsmanlike conduct called on Bucs’ David. Texans 39, Bucs 37.
0:16: STROUD! The rookie passes deep left to Dell for 26 yards.
0:49: CADE OTTON!!!! Mayfield passes short middle to Otton for a 14-yard touchdown and the extra point IS GOOD! Bucs extend the lead 37-33.
0:53: Mayfield goes deep middle to Palmer for 18 yards. The ball was punched out and recovered by Mike Evans at HOU10. The Replay Official reviewed the pass completion ruling – and the play was upheld – ruling stands.
1:13: Mayfield scrambles left to HOU36 for 5 yards. He gets the first down.
1:55: Mayfield to Palmer for a 21-yard completion – just short of the first down.
1:55: False start called on Bucs’ Tristan Wirfs.
2:31: Edmonds runs left and gets tripped up for an 8-yard loss.
3:15: White slices through for 3 yards and a first down.
4:27: Mayfield goes to Evans for 8 yards. The WR was injured during the play but appears to be OK.
5:21: SACKED! Barrett takes down Stroud for a loss of 7 yards. Barrett knocked the ball out of Stroud’s hands and it was recovered by Texans’ Fant.
7:21: Mayfield passes incomplete short right to Godwin. Illegal motion called on Mayfield – declined.
8:45: Ogunbowale kicks 50 yards to HOU35. Thompkins returns it for 12 yards.
8:48: Without a kicker, Texans’ RB Ogunbowale hits a 29-yard field goal to extend Houston’s lead 33-30.
8:55: Stroud passes incomplete in the end zone to Schultz.
10:07: Stroud goes to Beck for a loss of a yard. Kancey picked up the tackle. Beck was injured during the play.
10:11: False start called on Texans’ Hutchinson.
10:39: Stroud passes deep left to Brown for 31 yards. Holding called on Bucs’ Davis – declined.
11:16: Stroud passes off to Brown, who throws it back to the QB. He runs it for 11 yards.
11:43: Stroud passes short middle to Brown for 28 yards. Holding called on Bucs’ McCollum – declined.
11:46: TOUCHDOWN! Mayfield to White for a TUDDY! The extra point is good and we’re tied 30-30.
12:12: Mayfield passes DEEP to Evans for 53 yards. Initially, the pass was ruled a touchdown, but upon further review, the play was reversed.
12:53: White goes up the middle for 11 yards to move the chains.
13:33: Mayfield goes to Otton for 9 yards and a first down.
14:11: Ogunbowale kicks 65 yards for a touchback.
14:15: STROUD! The rookie QB delivers once again with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Schultz. Texans have no kicker, so Stroud takes it in himself to get the two-point conversion. Houston takes the lead 30-23.
14:20: Stroud passes short to Collins. Bucs’ McCollum was right on the play once again.
15:00: Direct snap to Dell. Singletary takes it up the middle for a loss of 1.
End of the third quarter: Buccaneers 23 – Texans 22
0:29: Singletary goes up the middle, but gets pushed back for a loss of 4.
3:37: Stroud passes short to Schultz for 13 yards. Holding called on Bucs’ Davis.
4:27: Texans take down Mayfield for a loss of 10.
5:50: Bucs’ Chase Edmonds absorbs a huge tackle from Thomas from a loss of a yard.
5:59: Thompkins returns the punt for 51 yards. Holding called on Bucs’ Gill.
6:05: STROUD! The rookie QB passes deep right to Dell for a 29-yard TOUCHDOWN. Houston attempts a two-point conversion and it fails. Bucs 23, Texans 22.
6:42: Stroud to Schultz for a 26-yard completion.
7:08: Singletary goes up the middle for 2 yards. Holding called on Texans’ Deiter.
8:40: Stroud to Collins for 23 yards.
9:23: Camarda kicks 67 yards from TB35 to HOU-2. Dell returns the ball for 23 yards.
9:28: CHASE MCLAUGHLIN! He extends the lead with a 55-yard FG. Bucs 23- Texans 16.
10:59: Mayfield passes incomplete deep middle to Trey Palmer. Pass interference called on Houston’s Griffin.
12:20: Ogunbowale kicks 50 yards for a touchback.
12:32: WOW! Stroud passes DEEP to Brown for a 75-YARD TOUCHDOWN. Texans go for a two-point conversion, and the attempt FAILS. Bucs’ Tryon-Shoyinka intercepts the pass at TB9, however, he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct – enforced between downs.
12:38: Camarda kicks 61 yards to HOU4. Dell returns the ball for 21 yards.
12:42: Bucs’ McLaughlin goes for a 49-yard FG and IT’S GOOD! Bucs 20, Texans 10.
14:22: Mayfield to White for 16 yards.
14:55: Mayfield passes short middle to White for 3 yards. Unnecessary roughness called on Texans’ Perryman.
15:00: Ogunbowale kicks 61 yards to HOU35 – Thompkins returns it for 23 yards.
End of the second quarter: Buccaneers 17 – Texans 10
0:07: Stroud passes short tight to Collins for 12 yards – Holding called on Texans’ Tunsil.
0:13: Offsides called on Bucs’ Barrett – his second flag of the day.
0:57: Stroud passes short right to Singletary for a loss of 3 yards.
1:02: DEVIN WHITE!!! The veteran linebacker takes down Stroud for a loss of 7 yards.
1:25: Houston on the move as Stroud passes 16 yards to Dell.
1:29: Stroud passes incomplete to Brown. Holding called on Bucs’ rookie Izien.
2:00: Stroud passes short right to Collins for 17 yards.
2:24: SACKED! Bucs’ first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey takes down Stroud for a loss of 13 yards. Illegal shift called on Houston.
3:00: Stroud passes short middle to Schultz for 9 yards – just short of the first down.
3:48: Mayfield goes to Vaughn, who gets tackled right out of the gate for a yard loss.
5:17: Houston punts for a touchback.
5:22: Texans go for a 50-yard FG and IT’S GOOD! Bucs 17, Texans 10.
5:36: Stroud, on the run, is forced to through it away on a deep incomplete pass.
6:55: Stroud passes short left to Metchie for 14 yards.
9:07: RACHAAD WHITE!! The running back extends Bucs lead with a 1-yard TOUCHDOWN and the extra point is GOOD! Bucs 17, Texans 7.
12:03: Mayfield passes deep to Evans for 16 yards. Texans’ Stewart was injured during the play.
12:15: Houston punts 54 yards to TB 36. Thompkins returned the ball for 9 yards. Unsportsmanlike Conduct called on Texans’ Ross.
14:11: Singletary was pushed back for a loss of 2 yards (Shaq Barrett).
14:20: Camarda punts 52 yards to HOU 10 – out of bounds.
15:00: Mayfield kicks off the second quarter with a short middle pass to Otton for 9 yards – not enough to reach the first down.
End of the first quarter: Buccaneers 10 – Texans 7
0:31: Mayfield goes deep left to Evans for 38 yards. Pass interference called on Evans – 10-yard penalty.
1:22: Bucs’ Thompkins returns the ball for 3 yards.
1:27: Stroud launches downfield to Dell, but the pass is incomplete.
2:18: OTTON!! The second-year tight end gets the job done to put the Bucs back in the lead. The extra point is good! Bucs 10, Texans 7.
2:54: Mayfield tries to run it in himself, but gets pushed back for a loss of 2.
3:42: Mayfield goes to Godwin for 15 yards.
4:10: Mayfield to Godwin for 5 yards. Holding called on Bucs’ Luke Goedeke.
5:27: Mayfield sacked for no yards. Unnecessary roughness called on Texans’ Ward.
7:16: Mayfield goes to his guy Mike Evans for a 10-yard completion.
9:10: RACHAAD WHITE! Mayfield passes short left to White, who went on a 33-yard run.
9:14: Stroud goes short left to Collins for a 14-yard TOUCHDOWN and the extra point is GOOD. Texans 7, Bucs 3. Bucs’ Jamel Dean is being evaluated for a concussion following the play.
9:43: Stroud passes short right to Brown for 6 yards. Roughing the Passer called on Bucs’ Shaq Barrett.
11:02: David pushes Singletary back for a loss of a yard.
11:38: Rookie to rookie: Stroud goes short middle to Dell for 15 yards.
12:56: Stroud passes short right to Schultz for 21 yards.
12:59: BUCS ARE ON THE BOARD. Chase McLaughlin nails a 35-yard FG. Bucs 3, Texans 0.
14:15: Rachaad White goes up the middle for no gain.
14:38: Bucs’ QB Baker Mayfield passes short right to Otton for 24 yards. Defensive offside called on Texans’ Greenard – declined.
14:48: ANTOINE WINFIELD JR.!!!! Texans’ quarterback C.J. Stroud’s pass to Shultz was fumbled (Lavonte David) and was recovered by Antoine Winfield Jr. Bucs Ball!
15:00: Camarda kicks 65 yards from TB35 to the end zone for a touchback.