HOUSTON -- As the Jacksonville Jaguars accumulated losses during the first half of the season, their destiny as the worst team in the NFL seemed as sure a bet as the malaise engulfing their home crowds.
But few throughout the league could have anticipated the two-time defending AFC South champion Houston Texans occupying such lowly ground on Sunday, with a franchise-record eighth consecutive losses heading into a morbid matchup with the Jaguars with the cellar of the division on the line.
The Jaguars recorded consecutive road wins for the first time in five years, limiting the Texans to 218 yards while posting a 13-6 victory at Reliant Stadium, their first there since 2009, to extend Houston's losing skid to nine consecutive games.
Jacksonville (2-9) last won successive games on the road in Weeks 3 and 6 in 2008, at Indianapolis and Denver, respectively. Josh Scobee nailed field goals of 30 and 53 yards while running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown while adding 60 receiving yards on six catches as the Jaguars followed a triumph in Tennessee two weeks ago by adding to the woes of the spiraling Texans.
"I'm in a bit of disbelief," Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. "There's also some curiosity about what's going on, what exactly is happening and why is it happening. Losing is embarrassing, period. I wouldn't wear it as a badge of shame, though. We fought our hearts out but couldn't break our losing streak. It's very disappointing."
The Texans (2-9) extended their losing skid by totaling just 11 first downs and rushing for 77 yards, with starting running back Ben Tate producing just one yard on seven attempts.
"It started with us wanting to play well against the run," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We felt if we could do that, we'd be more solid against the play-action pass and the boot game we all know Houston does real well. We did well against the run, and we put them in third-and-long situations so we could really put some pressure on the quarterback."
Pulled in favor of veteran Matt Schaub late in the third quarter last week against the Oakland Raiders, Texans second-year quarterback Case Keenum continued his struggles against Jacksonville, averaging just 3.9 yards per pass attempt while tossing his second interception of the season as the Texans mounted a futile drive late in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars mounted constant pressure on Keenum, who complicated matters with questionable decision-making while in the pocket. With Jacksonville defensive end Andre Branch bearing down on him in the first quarter, Keenum opted to continue scrambling instead of getting rid of the ball, ultimately taking a 19-yard sack on third down. It was the first of two times Keenum was sacked.
What the Jaguars said
"He's a great player, and he's been doing it for years. He's a big part of their offense. Our whole defense took that to heart as to what was coming from him. We really worked hard in practice (to prepare for Andre Johnson). Things we worked on in practice (happened) in the game, and we capitalized on it." -- Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien on limiting wide receiver Andre Johnson to two catches.
What the Texans said
"Obviously, we didn't execute, simple things like running and passing. That's (not scoring touchdowns) is a big struggle. Obviously, he (quarterback Case Keenum) can play a lot better. I have to do a better job with him, too. The more you play, the more you see." -- Coach Gary Kubiak on his offense that hasn't scored a touchdown in the last two losses.
What we learned about the Jaguars
1. Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew remains as prideful as ever, and his impact on the game has yet to diminish. Jones-Drew totaled 144 yards on 20 touches, but his 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down not only provided the Jaguars' lone touchdown of the game, it gave the Jacksonville sideline a jolt of confidence against a struggling opponent.
2. The Jaguars welcomed back linebacker Paul Posluszny, who missed last week's loss to the Arizona Cardinals with a concussion. Posluszny recorded a game-high 14 tackles, including two for losses, and set the tone for a defense that dominated from start to finish. The Jaguars aimed to stuff the Texans' running game and they did exactly that, limiting Houston to 3.7 yards per carry.
What we learned about the Texans
1. Houston, besieged by injuries, is going nowhere fast. What many viewed as an opportunity to examine several intriguing prospects has instead turned into growing concerns over the young players under close watch. Quarterback Case Keenum had played well in the first half of his previous four starts, but last week's benching against the Oakland Raiders appeared to carry over for his inaccuracy and inability to read pressure put the Texans in an early hole.
2. Texans coach Gary Kubiak wants to tutor quarterback Case Keenum, but with leaks springing everywhere offensively, the task appears greater than even Kubiak seems capable of managing. With a porous offensive line and a backfield depleted by the loss of running back Arian Foster, the Texans lack the offensive balance to provide Keenum an opportunity to develop.