The Houston Texans continued their dominance of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday with a 13-6 victory at TIAA Bank Stadium. The victory was the ninth straight for the Texans over the Jaguars, who have not beaten Houston since 2017.
There has got to be some soul-searching in the locker room after this game as the Jaguars have now lost two in a row and the reality that things could go off the rails quickly has to be setting in. Yes – there is plenty of football left, but the team did not look good on their home field against a Texans team who were winless coming in.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished 25-of-47 for 286 yards with two interceptions. He took a step back in this one, throwing a horrible interception on a 2nd-and-1 on the doorstep of the end zone and locking in on receivers instead of taking the open guy. That proved costly on the final drive, but there were other opportunities in the game that saw Lawrence make some head-scratching decisions.
Jacksonville (2-3) got the offense going on their third drive, with Travis Etienne catching a 20-yard pass and Chris Manhertz coming down with a 16-yard catch. The end result was a 26-yard field goal by Riley Patterson and a 3-0 lead for the Jaguars.
Houston (1-3-1) running back Dameon Pierce owned the next drive, running four straight times, bridging the first and second quarters. He had runs of 12 and 17 yards on the drive and set up Ka’imi
Fairbairn for a 50-yard field goal and a 3-3 tie.
The next Jaguars drive started at their own eight and Lawrence found Marvin Jones a few plays in for a 37-yard gain to the Houston 40. They would get to the 37, setting up a 4th-and-4 but Lawrence had his pass batted down and the result was an empty possession.
Head coach Doug Pederson has made a name for himself going for it on fourth down and there are times it has worked. In this game, he went for it three times with one coming on the final drive. Although you like the confidence he has in his offense, there wasn’t much offense today from this Jaguars squad as they struggled to move the ball as the field got shorter.
The Texans’ ensuing drive was Pierce-heavy and the result was another Fairbairn field goal from 51 yards out and a 6-3 Texans lead.
The home team took over with 3:17 left in the half and Lawrence found Evan Engram for 25 yards. After an Etienne nine-yard run, Lawrence found James Robinson for 10 yards and tight end Dan Arnold, for 20, down to the Houston 21.
A couple of plays later Etienne would fumble and Houston recovered, but the play was overturned on review, and the Jaguars and Lawrence were given a reprieve
They took advantage as Patterson hit his second field goal of the day from 45 yards out and the game was tied at six at the half. Etienne had 10 carries for 71 yards and three catches for 43.
Jacksonville got the ball to start the second half and Engram came down with a 29-yard catch. Marvin Jones then had a 17-yard grab and Zay Jones had a seven-yard catch that resulted in a first down at the Houston 16. Jones’ longest reception of the day was as he returned after missing last week. He caught three balls for 12 yards.
After Etienne ran for nine yards, the Jags were facing a 2nd-and-1 from the seven. Lawrence looked at Zay Jones, who was coming across the formation, and never looked away. Texans rookie Derek Stingley Jr. read the pass and picked it off in the end zone.
It was a horrible decision by Lawrence to even think about throwing that ball, as he had running room and at worst, would have likely run for a first down. Even if he didn’t, he was staring at third down and goal. None of it mattered, because he inexplicably gave the ball away. He has shown in this early season that he can stay calm in the pocket, but that throw made him look like a rookie all over again.
Stingley Jr. brought the ball out of the end zone after the interception and the Texans’ drive started on the two. They did manage to get out of trouble and put together an eight-minute drive but punted on 4th-and-1.
Jacksonville started at their own nine and Lawrence found Marvin Jones for 20 yards with 42 seconds left in the third. They would move the ball into Houston territory and Engram made a catch at the Houston 38 that left him short of a first down, as he was gang-tackled. The fourth down hand off to Robinson went nowhere as the much-maligned Texans defense stonewalled him and kept the Jaguars off the board.
The Texans punted and the Jaguars did the same on their next drive, with Logan Cooke drilling a 62-yarder. Houston started at their own 26. A holding call and a couple of incompletions put them in a 3rd-and-20 and Jaguars first-round pick Travon Walker got to Houston quarterback Davis Mills for the sack. Unfortunately, Walker tried to throw Mills into the turf after the play was already over, resulting in a completely inexcusable roughing the passer call that gave the Texans a first down on what would have been fourth and a mile.
From there, Houston turned back to Pierce, who finished off a 12-play, 74-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown, giving the Texans a 13-6 lead with 3:07 left.
Jacksonville did get to midfield on their final drive with Marvin Jones hauling in a 17-yard pass. Jones finished with seven catches for 104 yards. He was targeted 11 times.
Lawrence would then throw three incompletions, setting up one final play.
He dropped back and had Marvin Jones and Christian Kirk open in the pattern. It didn’t seem like he even looked at them, instead opting for the deeper receiver in Engram with 1:47 left. It backfired as the ball was not close, resulting in another turnover on downs. Engram was unable to add to his six-catch, 69-yard day.
The Texans punted on their final possession giving Jacksonville one last shot. Lawrence was forced to throw a hail mary on fourth down and he was picked as the throw came up woefully short with no time left.
With wins by Indianapolis on Thursday and the Titans today, Jacksonville went from first to third in the division and has nobody to blame but themselves. This was a game that was there for the taking, but mistakes and bad decisions cost the Jaguars the win.
The team we saw against the Colts and Los Angeles just isn’t there right now. It was an inconsistent day on both offense and defense on a day that one or two plays were the difference because the other team struggled too.
It is easy to say Jacksonville lost this game more than the Texans won it, but Houston made the plays that allowed them to capitalize when points were at a premium.
This was a disappointing loss that they will have to move on from quickly, but there is a pattern taking shape. This team has been in every game and had a chance to win all three games that they came up short on. They have been unable to close the door. They get a lead, let the other team hang around, or watch them blow right by.
Should they be 5-0? Absolutely not, but they should still have the lead in the division. Now they have the Colts again next week, and the Colts will likely find a way, just as the Texans did today. Especially if the Jaguars continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
Kickoff in Indianapolis is set for 1:00 p.m. next Sunday.