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VanderBlog: Texans take loss with Tampa Bay next


In the NFL, anything can happen. The Texans saw Sunday's opponent put together their best performance of the season as Houston came up short in its bid to win two in a row for the second time this year.

Coming off the bye, the Texans came out smoking on defense but the offense never got into its highest gear. At the end of the day, they have to quickly digest a 15-13 loss and ready themselves for a hungry Tampa Bay team at NRG Stadium next week.

Carolina hardly put on an offensive showcase, and the Texans had a lot to do with it. But when they needed a big field goal drive at the end of the game, they got it. And Houston had to head home thinking about their last two road trips ending in walk-off kicks for the opponent.

The passing game had some bright moments. Yet the passing lanes were jammed with Panther paws and the Texans didn't pick up the key third down conversions they needed in the fourth quarter.

Houston was doing its best to weather the storm. Part of the issue was a fumble that gave the Panthers the ball in Texans territory. The D held the damage to a field goal. Then they put together a 75 yard go-head drive in the third quarter to take a one-point lead. The Texans went for two but missed. Had they made it, it would have made the last few minutes a very different situation.

 The defense forced two punts after that. Yet the Texans couldn't capitalize again.

View the best photos from the Week 8 matchup between the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers.

The final Carolina drive was a 15-play, 86-yard march that was aided by two Texans penalties (eventually four, as they were flagged jumping early on field goal attempts) and a fourth down conversion from Bryce Young to Adam Thielen. Give the Panthers credit for coming up with the big plays in the crunch. We all would have loved to see what would have happened if there was time on the clock for a C.J. Stroud drive.

Tampa Bay will be tough. The defense is loaded with names-you-know, players who have won a Super Bowl. They're also coming off the mini Bye, following a Thursday night loss at Buffalo. There are 10 games left, the majority of the season. Everything the Texans want to do is still in front of them. And they need to respond well, following this loss.

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