Jaguars hand Texans 11th straight loss, 27-20
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars played 299 games without having a non-quarterback throw a touchdown pass.
Then they did it twice — in four days.
Receiver Ace Sanders heaved a 21-yard TD pass to running back Jordan Todman in the third quarter, helping the Jaguars beat the Houston Texans 24-20 on Thursday night.
“We’re going to find ways to be bold,” coach Gus Bradley said.
The trick play came just days after Maurice Jones-Drew’s 8-yard TD pass to college teammate Marcedes Lewis, which turned out to be a huge play in Jacksonville’s 32-28 victory at Cleveland.
Clearly, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is finding different ways to get it done. Not only did the Jaguars score an opening-drive touchdown for the fourth time in five games — most of them scripted plays by Fisch — they also were aggressive at every turn.
Following Case Keenum’s interception with less than a minute to play in the first half, Fisch dialed up a deep pass from Chad Henne to Cecil Shorts III. And late in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars went deep again and drew a pass-interference penalty that was instrumental in helping close out the victory.
But Sanders’ toss was the main highlight.
Henne threw behind the line of scrimmage to Sanders, who took a few steps in the other direction and threw across the field to Todman. It resulted in a touchdown and a 24-10 lead.
“We are just starting to get more comfortable and take more shots,” Jones-Drew said. “Coach says to always be bold with your statement, and throwing a double pass is very bold. This is what we want to continue to do and just keep defenses on their heels. Sometimes when a defense gets too aggressive they can control what you do on offense. So if you throw a little wrinkle in there every now and then, you keep them on their heels and you’ll be able to make plays.”
The Jaguars (4-9) won their third straight — their fourth victory in five games since a bye — and continued to show signs of progress under Bradley. They have the longest winning streak in the AFC. Not bad for a team that started 0-8.
“Four out of five, yeah, you’re feeling good,” Henne said.
Jacksonville also won at home for the first time since Nov. 25, 2012, against Tennessee.
“Our guys just really believe,” Bradley said. “The biggest challenge is to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a young team that’s learning how to do this.”
Aside from Jacksonville’s winning ways, here are five things to know about Thursday night’s game:
QB QUANDARY: Houston has another decision to make at quarterback. Coach Gary Kubiak benched starter Case Keenum, replacing him with Schaub late in the third quarter. Schaub came off the bench and carved up Jacksonville’s secondary, throwing for 198 yards and a touchdown. But he also misfired in the red zone late and threw an interception that essentially sealed the loss, which extended Houston’s franchise-record losing streak to 11 games. “I have a lot of confidence in him ... and always have,” Kubiak said. “He went in there and showed he has bought into what is going on.”
MJD’S NIGHT: Maurice Jones-Drew topped the century mark for the first time since Sept. 23, 2012. He ran 14 times for a season-high 103 yards. He also caught two passes 20 yards. His 48-yard run in the third quarter set up the trick-play score. He left the game in the closing minutes with a right hamstring injury, but said after the game that he will be fine. “I’ll be all right,” he said. “It just tightened up at the end.”
PENALTIES PLUS: The Texans added a new wrinkle to their season-long woes. Plagued by turnovers and red-zone struggles all year, Houston was flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards at Jacksonville. “They were huge penalties,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “That’s on me. It’s ridiculous. It’s inexcusable. It can’t happen.” It did. And all those flags surely helped the Texans blow another winnable game.
JOHNSON SHINES: Andre Johnson caught just two passes for 36 yards in the teams’ first meeting 11 days ago. He made up for it this time around. Johnson had 13 receptions (21 targets) for 154 yards — his latest gem against the Jags.
EVERYONE EATS: After a fourth win in five weeks, Bradley rewarded his players with three days off. He also reminded them about his “eat crumbs” motto, which is designed to keep players humble and hungry. Guard Uche Nwaneri, though, had a suggestion for anyone who doubted the Jaguars: “Everybody who was talking noise can just eat some crow real quick,” Nwaneri said.
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