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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