HOUSTON -- There's no way around it: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played well enough to win -- a second straight road victory would have been huge -- and the kicker cost them nine points. Those points changed the pace of the game, allowing the Houston Texans to take control, run the clock and score nine fourth-quarter points as the Bucs lost 19-9 at NRG Stadium.
Kyle Brindza was brilliant early in the game with a 58-yard boot with room to spare, but his accuracy is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed after he missed kicks of 33, 41 and 57 yards. Perhaps things could have been different had the Bucs taken a 12-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on that 33-yard attempt. After all, the Bucs aren't good enough to overcome missed chip shots. The margin for error is small with this team.
What it means: The Bucs couldn't run the ball (57 yards on 20 carries), which is a concern because Jameis Winston is still erratic with his accuracy. But at least Winston showed some big-game moments, including two beautiful downfield throws to Louis Murphy in the fourth quarter as the Bucs approached the red zone. Winston started to find a rhythm late in the game. He's not afraid of throwing from the pocket with the game on the line. Make no mistake, a 17-of-36 passing performance for a rating of 69.3 isn't ideal. But he made some money throws. With the defense, the Bucs' outlook is clear-cut: When they create turnovers, they are solid. Three turnovers resulted in a win against New Orleans, and one wasn't enough against Houston.
What were they thinking? Winston's interception on the first drive of the third quarter was brutal, even by rookie standards. He stood in the pocket for about five seconds and launched a ball over the middle and into double coverage. Safety Quintin Demps had the easy pick. The Bucs had a 9-7 lead and the ball to start the second half. But the interception set up a Texans field goal.
One reason to get excited: The Bucs force-fed Mike Evans with 17 targets. Seventeen! Evans had seven catches for 101 yards, but also had three drops. That's OK -- getting him back into rhythm will pay off in later weeks. The Evans-Winston relationship must work. It's fine to overcompensate here.
One reason to panic: The Bucs still do things bad franchises do -- they can't get out of their own way with penalties, committing three of them on the first offensive series and 10 penalties for 84 yards overall. Bucs fans know this routine all too well.
Fantasy watch: Doug Martin should be a reliable RB2 in fantasy play, but had nowhere to go against the Texans. He had 16 yards on seven carries at halftime. He finished with a 3.3-yard average on 14 tries, 46 yards overall.