Canadian TE Antony Auclair records first career touchdown catch, as Texans fall to the Pats

It took five seasons, but Antony Auclair finally has a touchdown ball that he can place next to the Super Bowl ring in his trophy case.

The pride of the Université de Laval opened the scoring for the Houston Texans with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter of their matchup with the New England Patriots on Sunday, slipping past safety Kyle Dugger and making a twisting adjustment to haul in the 11-yard strike from quarterback Davis Mills.

The touchdown catch, Auclair’s lone touch on the afternoon, was his first target all-season and the first NFL major from a Québécois player since Tshimanga Biakabutuka scored on October 21st, 2001. Unfortunately, the Canadian’s career accomplishment could not propel his team to victory, as the Texans fell 25-22 thanks to a fourth quarter surge from Patriots rookie Mac Jones and a chip shot game-winner from kicker Nick Folk.

The touchdown was a long-time coming for Auclair, who first caught the eye of NFL scouts thanks to a dominant Vanier Cup-winning season with the Rouge et Or in 2016. The native of tiny Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que. drew scouts from 17 NFL teams to his pro day at Laval that March.

Auclair signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft and remained with the team for four years, recording ten receptions for 84 yards in 40 games. He dressed for eight games in 2020, making two starts. While he was inactive for all four of Tampa Bay’s post-season victories over Washington, New Orleans, Green Bay, and Kansas City, the six-foot-six, 256-pound TE still received a Super Bowl ring.

The 27-year-old earned $2,935,000 USD with the Bucs, including $1,250,000 on a one-year contract in 2020. He raved about playing with Brady, calling him the “greatest teammate of all-time.”

With future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski still in the building, Auclair left Tampa Bay in free agency and signed with Houston. The veteran was relegated to the practice squad out of training camp, but was promoted to the active roster on September 21 and has started each of the last three games.

Should he ever venture back north, Auclair’s CFL rights are held by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but his reputation as one of the better run-blocking tight ends in the NFL makes that unlikely to happen anytime soon.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.