Texans climb atop division with 20-7 win over Jaguars

The Texans came out on top in Jacksonville. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans came out with a powerful pass rush and capitalized on turnovers to claim first place in the AFC South by beating the Jaguars on the road in Jacksonville 20-7. Turnovers forced by the Texans defense led to 10 points and the pass rush set the tone early for a Jaguars offense that was under siege all day.

The Houston defense finished the day with nine quarterback hits and four sacks. They recovered two fumbles by Blake Bortles and safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Cody Kessler. Jacksonville was held to 70 yards rushing and 189 yards passing. The Houston defense forced a 47% conversion rate on third down.

Jacksonville’s starting quarterback Bortles looked terrible in the game before being replaced by Kessler after fumbling to end their first drive of the second half, his second turnover of the game. Houston would capitalize with a touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins and a dominant 20-0 lead.

Kessler looked better than Bortles, leading one drive 47 yards for their lone touchdown of the day. But he was not good enough to avoid four sacks for minus 28 yards from the Houston defense. Jadeveon Clowney led the way with two, and Whitney Mercilus and Tyrann Mathieu getting one apiece.

The key to Houston’s offensive success was the run game led by Lamar Miller. All day he looked like a different running back. He was running ahead and finding holes to the tune of 4.5 yards per carry average. He finished the game totaling 100 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown. Alfred Blue was great on his eight carries for 28 yards to keep the ball moving forward. They picked up another 13 yards from Watson on their way to 141 total yards rushing.

Watson’s passing game was flustered by the Jacksonville pass rush, especially the speed rush of Yannick Ngakoue against left tackle Julie’n Davenport. But he did well with no turnovers and a touchdown pass with only one sack. His numbers don’t jump off the page like previous weeks (12 of 24 for 139 yards) but the Texans had a lot of short fields to work with. They scored touchdowns on both possessions inside the red zone, something they have been criticized about heavily this season.

Defense won the game again this week, but because Houston didn’t turn the ball over and Watson only took one sack, the offense stayed in motion and put up points on the board. The Texans still hurt themselves with six penalties for 35 yards, most of them pre-snap penalties; but it looks like the offense might be getting closer to what it can be at its best.


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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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