With the running game serving as a double shot of espresso, the Texans put in a productive afternoon of hard work that resulted in their first victory of the year.
And with a sluggish start for all the AFC South members, the Texans suddenly find themselves tied for first. The race resumes next week in Atlanta.
Ryan Mallett is now 2-2 as a starter. He has yet to play a game with Arian Foster. In both his wins, Alfred Blue went for well over 100 yards. He got the ball in the hands of DeAndre Hopkins for over 100 receiving yards and made several clutch throws on third down.
But it's Blue and the backs that really opened some eyes. Blue had nine carries on the fourth quarter drive that iced the game. It was a near seven minute, 14 play march that ended with a chip shot field goal to put the game out of reach. Jay Prosch had three big carries including a seven yard rugby scrum that netted a first down at the Bucs' 30.
Jameis Winston made some terrific throws but in an effort to get the ball out fast, lost accuracy as the game wore on. The lone Tampa Bay touchdown came on a short field after a pick on a batted ball by Mallett.
The Texans stopped the run, allowing only 57 yards on 20 carries, which comes out to less than three per carry. This made the Bucs one dimensional. And even though Houston didn't get any sacks, they made Winston hurry, kept him below 50% and smothered Tampa Bay to the tune of a 1-for-12 performance on third down.
It wasn't a power ranking campaign maker but it was a win over a capable upstart squad and it was just what the Texans needed. Being in a draw with the divisional colleagues and having a chance to restart the season is a breath of fresh air after the shaky start.
Bill O'Brien said afterwards "There's no such thing as first place after week 3." But the fact is the Texans played better and put something together they hope to build on as they head to the Georgia Dome Sunday.
View photos from Sunday's Texans-Buccaneers game at NRG Stadium.