Ranking all 5 turnovers from the first 18 minutes of Saturday’s Texans-Buccaneers game

usa today 13823647.0 - Ranking all 5 turnovers from the first 18 minutes of Saturday’s Texans-Buccaneers gameDouglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

3 Jameis INTs, 2 fumbles, AND a blocked kick? Merry Christmas to us all.

On Saturday, the Texans and Buccaneers played host to the first Saturday game of the NFL’s 2019 season. In an homage to the college teams whose day they’d usurped, they played the entire first quarter (and more) while pulling off some extremely-accurate NAIA cosplay.

Houston and Tampa Bay played what could generously be described as “football” in the first half of a mistake-laden game in Florida. Saturday’s first 10 drives saw only two more first downs (seven) than turnovers (five). The drive chart through slightly more than one quarter was the nightmare Bruce Arians has when he powers down for his nightly 37 minutes of sleep.

Screen Shot 2019 12 21 at 1.58.44 PM - Ranking all 5 turnovers from the first 18 minutes of Saturday’s Texans-Buccaneers game

This Drunk History recreation of an obscure 1970s playoff game — complete with NFL Network announcer Rich Eisen swapping out Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston’s names interchangeably — was notable not for the play of Pro Bowlers like Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, or Shaquil Barrett, but for just how many mistakes were made. For the first quarter-plus, this game averaged a possession-changing goof every three minutes. Tampa Bay had three points in its first six possessions and, against most gridiron logic, hadn’t punted once.

It was sloppy and entertaining as well — two descriptors that generally describe Buccaneer quarterback Winston as well. Which of these early turnovers — all of which took place before the game’s 19th minute — stood out the most in a football game that quickly turned into performance art?

6. Bonus! 8:32, 1st quarter. Angelo Blackson blocked Matt Gay’s 54-yard field goal. It was returned by Zach Cunningham for 19 yards to the Houston 49. Texans ball.

Not a turnover in the classic fumble/interception/muffed punt sense, but let’s allow it. Blackson earned his second blocked kick in as many weeks simply by being very large and putting his hand up at the exact right time.

That took three potential points off the board for Tampa and set up …a fake field goal that instead gave way to a Texans punt from the Buccaneers’ 36-yard line.

I told you this game was weird.

5. 12:24, 2nd quarter. Peyton Barber fumbled. Recovered by Justin Reid for no gain. Texans ball.

Tampa stood tough after forcing a three-and-out to nullify Winston’s third interception of the day. That handed the Bucs the ball at their own 30-yard line …and, seconds later, gave the Texans another scoring opportunity.

Houston turned that into a 42-yard touchdown drive and a 17-3 lead fewer than three minutes later.

4. 13:19, 1st quarter. Winston intercepted by Justin Reid. Reid returned the pick for a 27-yard touchdown (called back due to a blindside block). Texans ball.

Winston was in search of redemption after an awful Saturday debut. His interception-incompletion start had put the Bucs down 7-0 facing third-and-6 from his own 16. The Texans were entirely ready for this passing play, leaving the fifth-year veteran to either blank Reid in the middle of the field or fail to throw it over his outstretched hands.

While his pick-six wouldn’t stand, the Texans still turned this Winston mis-read into three points and a 10-0 lead fewer than four minutes into the game.

3. 14:23, 2nd quarter. Duke Johnson fumbled. Recovered by Devin White for eight yards. Buccaneers ball.

Tampa Bay finally got a little bit of early momentum after spotting the Texans a double-digit lead. Johnson’s fumble set up the Bucs at the Houston 30-yard line, where a touchdown could even the score despite a putrid first quarter.

This hope lasted exactly eight seconds of game time.

2. 14:15, 2nd quarter. Jameis Winston intercepted by Johnathan Joseph. Joseph returned the pick for no gain. Texans ball.

Winston turned opportunity into a crisis on the VERY. NEXT. PLAY.

Joseph, the franchise’s career interception leader, took advantage of a wobbly pass thrown into coverage. That erased a potential scoring drive and still wasn’t Winston’s most damaging turnover of the first 18 minutes.

1. 14:19, 1st quarter. Jameis Winston intercepted by Bradley Roby. Roby returned the pick 27 yards for a touchdown. Texans ball (for the extra point, at least).

Ahhhh yes. There it is.

Here’s the second non-kickoff play of the game: a Jameis Winston pick-six. It was the fifth time this season he’s finished his opening drive of the game with an interception and the second time in the past month his first pass of the day ended up in a defensive back’s hands. It truly set the tone for the growing pile of nonsense that followed.

This rambunctious first quarter-plus helped the Texans build a 17-3 lead in Tampa. Then, because this game has all the consistency of Tracy Morgan’s stand-up, Watson threw a second-quarter interception on which Winston capitalized to send these teams into halftime knotted up at 17.


This game is either amazing or awful, and it all depends on which play you’ve turned into on any given time. It may be the most Buccaneers game ever played.

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