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Texans start slow, finish strong in loss to Tampa


Quarterback John David Booty gave the Texans' coaches a lot to think about after a strong performance.

The Texans had one last dress rehearsal Thursday before their quest for the playoffs begins Sept. 12.

After falling behind 17-0 by halftime, the Texans rebounded with a 17-point second half in a 24-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in front of 70,035 fans at Reliant Stadium.

The preseason game was far from a run-through for many Texans. The team must trim its roster to 53 players by 3 p.m. CT on Sept. 4, so tonight's contest took on added importance for many players mired in position battles.

It was tough to tell that sense of urgency based on the first two quarters of play. The Bucs intercepted quarterback Dan Orlovsky twice, and safety Corey Lynch returned his pick 91 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 10-0 lead with 9:30 left in the half.

Before his turnover, Orlovsky completed his first eight pass attempts for 85 yards. At halftime, he was replaced by quarterback John David Booty.

"I feel like he's had a good preseason," coach Gary Kubiak said of Orlovsky. "Am I disappointed? Is Dan disappointed that he didn't come out of this game clean? Yes, but those are things that he has to learn from."

{QUOTE}Houston flipped a switch coming out of the locker room to make it a game in the final 30 minutes of action.

In the third quarter, the offense outgained the Bucs by 120 yards, and Booty completed 9-of-16 throws for 102 yards with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bobby Williams.

With 7:28 left in the contest, Booty led the offense on a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Rookie wide receiver Dorin Dickerson made a spectacular one-handed grab on the sideline for a 24-yard gain to set up tight end Derek Fine's one-handed touchdown catch for 16 yards that narrowed Tampa Bay's lead to within seven points.

"He's up-and-down as a player," Kubiak said of Dickerson, a seventh-round pick out of Pittsburgh. "He's got the ability to play in this league. He's been sporadic."

On the ensuing kickoff, officials gave the Texans possession at the Tampa Bay 29 after fullback Jack Corcoran forced a fumble on the return that safety Troy Nolan recovered. Once the Bucs challenged the ruling, the call was overturned after video replays indicated that wide receiver Preston Parker's elbow touched the ground before he lost control of the ball.

Following a punt, Booty returned to the field to lead the offense on another long drive into Tampa territory. He completed three passes for 41 yards before his deep toss into the end zone on fourth-and-five from the 26-yard line slipped out of Dickerson's grasp.

"I was proud of the resolve of the young guys when you're sitting there down 17-0 at halftime and you've given up two touchdowns," Kubiak said. "But we really came out and played with some fire. I thought the kids were excited and gave themselves a chance at the end."

The lively ending featured several milestones. Booty set a club preseason record with 209 passing yards, while tight end James Casey set a team preseason record with eight catches. Combined, the team's tight end trio of Casey, Fine and rookie Garrett Graham caught 14 balls for 174 yards and the score.

"I was impressed with all of them," Kubiak said of the tight ends. "I think James was exceptional in the game. He wanted to go some more, but I pulled him out in the fourth quarter."

Unfortunately, the offense suffered a significant setback in the first half when promising running back Jeremiah Johnson left the game with a dislocated toe that will require him to miss some time.

As a result, bruising tailback Chris Henry received the lion's share of carries and made his case for a roster spot by totaling 51 yards on 16 carries (3.2 avg.) with a 12-yard long.

On Friday at 3:30 p.m. CT, Kubiak will announce his final roster decisions to the media in a press conference that you can watch live only on

"It's time to buckle up, get our 53, and go to work," Kubiak said.

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