Jaguars fail to close out another game, lose 31-20 to Texans
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars have to find a way to close out games.
It was a problem at times last year, and it has been a common theme in four of the team’s five losses this season.
The Jaguars led Houston 14-10 after three quarters Sunday before giving up three consecutive touchdowns in the fourth and losing 31-20. It was Jacksonville’s eighth loss in its last 10 meetings with the Texans.
“They’ve got to fight through that,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “You cannot press and try to make plays happen. You’ve just got to let them come to you. You’ve got to go through your reads. You’ve got to trust your teachings, your preparation and go about it that way.”
Jacksonville (1-5), which is now alone at the bottom of the AFC South, floundered down the stretch against Carolina, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
Against Houston, Brian Hoyer and DeAndre Hopkins were Jacksonville’s main problems. The Jaguars got little pressure on Hoyer and couldn’t cover Hopkins anywhere on the field.
Hoyer threw three touchdown passes on third down, two to Hopkins. The Texans (2-4) started emptying the stadium midway through the fourth quarter after Andre Hal returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 lead. It was the sixth pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles in 19 career starts.
“It’s the same old things that are holding us back,” Bortles said.
Hoyer and Hopkins pretty much had the game in hand well before Bortles’ most costly throw.
Hoyer was at his best on the game’s most important down, connecting with Arian Foster on third-and-goal from the 7 and then hooking up with Hopkins for two more third-down scores.
After getting leveled by a late hit and leaving for one play, Hoyer returned and found Hopkins in the back of the end zone. Hopkins bobbled the ball briefly before securing it. Hopkins ran by Davon House for a 26-yarder on the next possession, but his best catch may have been a one-hander that he secured against his helmet down the sideline.
“When you have a guy like that who wants the ball, who wants it in crunch time and who has the ability to go out and do it, it’s fun to have him on your team,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer completed 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards. Hopkins, shadowed by House all over the field, finished with 10 receptions for 148 yards. Foster was mostly held in check, running 18 times for 53 yards.
The only negative for Houston was injuries. Cornerback Kareem Jackson departed with a left ankle injury. And backup safety Lonnie Ballentine injured his left knee after making contact with Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter. Trainers rushed to put Ballentine’s leg in an air cast before carting him off the field.
Robinson was helped off, too. He limped to the locker room with a bruised left leg and was using a crutch after the game.
Robinson caught six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown before the injury.
Bortles completed 30 of 53 passes for 331 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The first pick came near the goal line at the end of the first half. Jacksonville could have tied the game at 10 heading into the locker room, but Hal stepped in front of Bortles’ low throw to Julius Thomas.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Jaguars, and Bradley dropped to 8-30 in three seasons.
“The crazy thing is we’re 1-5, but we’re not a 1-5 team,” Jaguars running back Denard Robinson said.
NOTES: Jaguars DT Sen’Derrick Marks made his season debut, but wasn’t much of a factor. ... Thomas finished with seven catches for 78 yards. ... Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien surely will get fined for his late hit on Hoyer.