The Buccaneers won the toss to start the game and elected to receive, as per usual. Unfortunately, it would be more of a deferment as quarterback Jameis Winston's first pass was intercepted by cornerback Bradley Roby and returned for a touchdown to give Houston an early 7-0 lead.
The Bucs' next crack at it didn't end much better, Winston was intercepted again but the ensuing touchdown was negated by a penalty. The Bucs defense was able to hold them to even though the Texans were able to get as far as the Tampa Bay 14 before they were forced to settle for a field goal. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn was good from 32 yards to increase the Texans' lead to 10-0.
This time, the Bucs' drive showed more promise with running back Ronald Jones breaking off a 49-yard run to get Tampa Bay into Houston territory in a hurry. They wouldn't quite be able to capitalize, settling for a 54-yard field goal attempt from Matt Gay. The kick was blocked and so were the Bucs chances to get on the board, with the Texans taking over at midfield.
The Bucs' defense stood up again, holding the Texans and forcing the punt. It gave the ball back to Tampa Bay, who this time would be able to capitalize a little bit. They got into Texans territory and stalled but Gay's field goal try was true this time from 50 yards out, putting the Bucs on the board, 10-3 just before the end of the first quarter.
The Texans were moving down the field on their next drive before inside linebacker Lavonte David popped the ball out of running back Carlos Hyde's hands. The fumble was recovered by rookie Devin White to get the stop for the Bucs' defense.
Unfortunately, the Bucs gave it right back as Winston was intercepted again. The defense again mitigated the damage, forcing the Texans to punt again though, too.
The Bucs' defense was right back on the field, though, as running back Peyton Barber fumbled, giving the Texans the ball at the Tampa Bay 42. This time, Houston would fully capitalize, scoring a touchdown to put them up 17-3 with 9:31 left in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay couldn't get anything going offensively on the next drive, taking some time off the clock but ultimately punting the ball away. The Bucs' defense forced Houston to trade one right back behind a sack from outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul on quarterback Deshaun Watson, dropping him for a loss of five.
The Bucs got into a groove on the next drive, getting down the field and to the four-yard line thanks to a 30-yard completion from Winston to newly promoted tight end Codey McElroy. It was his first NFL catch. From there, Jones punched it in for the four-yard touchdown to put the Bucs back within a score, 17-10, with 1:57 left in the half.
The Texans were stopped this time behind a sack of Watson as rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting knocked the ball out of Watson's hands. It went out of bounds, unfortunately but fellow rookie cornerback Jamel Dean took care of that on the next play. He intercepted Watson down the field, returning the ball 31 yards into Texans' territory with under a minute to play.
Winston then fired the ball down the field where he connected with wide receiver Ishmael Hyman. It gave the Bucs first-and-goal at the eight-yard line. On the third try, Winston scrambled and zipped a pass off into the end zone where it was snatched by second-year receiver Justin Watson for his second NFL touchdown. It tied the score 17-17, where the score would remain at halftime.
The Texans came out swinging from halftime but the Bucs' defense was able to hold them to a field goal, despite Houston getting to the Tampa Bay seven, as they went up 20-17 at the beginning of the third quarter.
The next drive was kept alive thanks to a 14-yard scramble by Winston third down. The Bucs would end up with a field goal as Gay was good from 41 yards out after a lengthy drive that lasted 8:17, leaving just 1:13 left in the third quarter.
The Texans were again stopped by the Bucs defense, thanks in part to another sack by Pierre-Paul. They found themselves in a third-and-23 situation from deep in their own territory. A good punt would mean the Bucs still started from their own 32-yard line.
They'd come up empty, punting the ball right back to Houston but a good kick from Bradley Pinion pinned the Texans at their own 12-yard line. They'd span the field but get stopped and be forced to settle for another field goal, retaking the lead. The score was 23-20 with 7:11 remaining in the game.
The Bucs got as far as the Texans' 40 before stalling on fourth-down and three. They went for it and Winston looked to have tight end Cameron Brate until the pass fell incomplete, thereby relinquishing the ball on downs with 3:34 left in the game.
Pierre-Paul would nab his third sack of the game on the next drive by the Texans, helping to bring up third-down and six near midfield. Good coverage from David brought up fourth-and-one and the Texans would end up punting, but not before the Bucs burned through two timeouts.
Tampa Bay got the ball back with 2:21 left in the game down three points. Unfortunately, Winston was intercepted again to give the Texans the Ball back in Tampa Bay territory with 1:27 left to go in the game.
Houston would run down the clock, bringing up fourth-and-11, and then take a delay of game penalty. They'd punt the ball back to the Bucs with 28 seconds and Tampa Bay with no time outs. They wouldnt be able to do anything, though and the final score was 23-20.