The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a shorter history with the Houston Texans than any other team in the NFL, for one very good reason: The Texans only became an NFL team in 2002.
Houston's arrival was the most recent bit of NFL expansion, and it was a welcome addition as it created a more symmetrical number of teams. While it was going from 31 to 32 clubs and reorganizing a bit into eight four-team divisions, the NFL also chose to revamp its scheduling system that year. The league mostly ditched the strength-of-schedule approach it had employed prior to 2002 and went to a simple rotation that guaranteed every team would face every other team at least once every four years.
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Actually, NFC teams like the Buccaneers know they will play AFC teams like the Texans exactly every fourth year as they rotate through the four divisions in the other conference. That rotation also alternates home and away games, so the Bucs played host to the Texans in 2003 and 2011 and paid a visit to Houston in 2007. Eight years later, it's time to head to Space City once again.
So Bucs-Texans is a brief history lesson, and not a very competitive one. The expansion Texans were still finding their feet in 2003 and the Buccaneers were the defending Super Bowl champs, so it was no surprise that Tampa Bay started out 1-0 in the series. Alternately, in 2011, the Texans were on the way to their very first playoff berth while the Buccaneers were limping to a 4-12 finish.
The 2007 meeting in Houston looked as if it had the potential to be tightly-contested, with the 8-4 Buccaneers taking on the 6-7 Texans, but the home team won that one by two touchdowns. The Bucs did go on to the playoffs that year while Houston made it to .500 for the first time in franchise history.
The Buccaneers have been to Houston more than once; their first regular-season game ever, in fact, was in the old Astrodome. But that was against the Houston Oilers, who are now the Tennessee Titans, so that game is technically part of the Bucs-Titans all-time ledger. The Buccaneers played four regular-season games in Houston before the Oilers moved to Nashville and lost them all, so Sunday's trip is, in fact, an opportunity for the franchise's first win in that city.
Also, the Buccaneers and Texans do have an extensive preseason history together. When Houston first joined the league in 2002, the two teams agreed to a nine-year run of preseason games, meeting in the last warm-up game every year through 2010. The teams alternated playing host to those preseason finales, starting with Houston in 2002, so that's five more trips the Buccaneers have made to Texas. Not that it's particularly relevant, but the Buccaneers did win seven of those nine games, including four of five in Houston.
By the time the two teams met for the first time in 2003, the Buccaneers were the defending champs in name only. A fast start to their title-defense season had melted away amid a run of injuries and frustrating late-game losses and the Buccaneers were just 6-7 when the Texans visited in Week 15. The Bucs would take that game, 16-3, for their final victory of 2003. This would be the finest game as a Buccaneer for running back Thomas Jones, who had been acquired in an offseason trade after three uninspiring years in Arizona. Jones, who would turn his bounce-back year in Tampa into a big contract in Chicago and an eventual 10,000-yard career, ran 34 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. His 16-yard scoring run at the end of the Buccaneers' first drive was the game's only touchdown, in fact. With franchise quarterback David Carr out, the Texans turned to Dave Ragone, who would complete just nine of 17 passes for 65 yards while absorbing five sacks. DE Greg Spires accounted for 2.5 of those five sacks.
The 2007 matchup in Houston was also in December, although this time the Buccaneers came in hot, riding a four-game winning streak. The Texans cooled down their visitors, winning mostly by dominating on third downs; Houston's offense converted 10 of 17 tries while the defense held Tampa Bay to three of 13 conversions, plus two whiffs on fourth-down attempts. Otherwise, the Buccaneers actually won the total yardage battle, 305-257, and the turnovers were even at two apiece. Houston scored on its first possession with a four-yard TD pass from Sage Rosenfels to Andre Johnson. The Bucs tied the game in the second quarter on Earnest Graham's four-yard scoring run, but the Texans countered with Kevin Walter's eight-yard touchdown reception. The turning point, however, came just seconds into the second half. WR Andre' Davis took the kickoff to open the half and dashed 97 yards for a touchdown, one of three he would score on returns that year. The Bucs wouldn't get any closer than seven points after that.
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Houston came back to Tampa in the middle of the 2011 season, which was also early in the 11-game losing streak that closed out the Buccaneers' own campaign. The Texans brought the Arian Foster show to town, as their star running back carried 17 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and also caught four passes for 102 yards and another score. His 78-yard catch and run in the second quarter made the score 16-0 and it never got much closer than that. Houston actually scored on the very first play of the game, as QB Matt Schaub hit WR Jacoby Jones on an 80-yard bomb. The Texans ran for 185 yards, sacked Josh Freeman four times and came down with three interceptions en route to a 37-9 victory.
Bucs-Texans Game-by-Game Record:
2003: W – 16-3, Tampa
2007: L – 28-14, Houston
2011: L – 37-9, Tampa
- Overall Season Series: Texans lead, 2-1
- Bucs' Home Record: 1-1
- Bucs' Road Record: 0-1
- Current Streak: Lose 2 (2007-11)
- Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 1 (2003)
- Texans' Longest Winning Streak: 2 (2007-11)
- Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 39, Texans 68
- Most Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 16, Texans 3 (2003)
- Most Points in a Game for Houston: Texans 37, Buccaneers 9 (2011)
- Most Points, Combined: Texans 37, Buccaneers 9 (2011)
- Fewest Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Texans 37, Buccaneers 9 (2011)
- Fewest Points in a Game for Houston: Buccaneers 16, Texans 3 (2003)
- Fewest Points in a Game, Combined: Buccaneers 16, Texans 3 (2003)