JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Maurice Jones-Drew broke two tackles, outran another defender and then flipped head-over-feels into the end zone.
He stood up and took two not-so-modest bows.
Then he got a well-deserved standing ovation.
Jones-Drew ran for 125 yards and two scores, finished with 260 all-purpose yards and helped Jacksonville thump division rival Houston 37-17 Sunday.
“When you run the ball for nine-point-something yards a carry in this league, you’re kicking somebody’s tail,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “That was ours they were kicking.”
Jacksonville celebrated a rare rout against the team that has caused it the most headaches in recent years. Houston, which had won four of the previous six meetings between the AFC South clubs, essentially knocked the Jaguars out of playoff contention in 2004 and 2006.
But Jacksonville’s inconsistent ways are a thing of the past. Maybe the team’s struggles against the Texans are, too.
The Jags vowed to change both this season, promising to prepare and play more consistently regardless of the opponent.
So far, so good.
Houston (3-3) provided the real test, especially since Jacksonville was coming off big road wins at Denver and Kansas City and has a Monday night game against defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis (5-0) up next.
“It was huge,” Taylor said. “This is a new face, a new team. We took another step up that hill. We’ve still got a ways to go. It helps our confidence. It gives us a little bit more momentum to the main objective, the main goal, and that’s to get on top of the hill. Right now, this is one more step.”
The Jaguars dominated this one, finishing with a season-high 244 yards on the ground. It could have been worse, had they not fumbled three times. The turnovers kept it close until the final quarter.
Jones-Drew had a 7-yard TD run early in the fourth, making it 23-9. Paul Spicer sacked Matt Schaub on the next possession, causing a fumble that Daryl Smith picked up and ran 77 yards to seal it with 8:55 remaining.
Jones-Drew added a 57-yard TD run and took his bows a few minutes later.
He was fined $7,500 last week for pretending to use the goal post as an ATM following a touchdown against the Chiefs. By comparison, this one was pretty tame.
“It’s fun and I’m young; I can do all that,” said Jones-Drew, who had a key 52-yard TD run last week. “I can do summersaulting and cartwheels and all that good stuff. I’m still young. It’s always good to see people smile, so I figured why not have people smile and lighten up the room a little bit.”
Jones-Drew added 59 yards receiving and 76 yards on four kickoff returns. His 184 yards from scrimmage were a career high.
“Maurice Jones-Drew clearly had a phenomenal game,” Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. “I don’t even have to wait until we got to tape to give him a game ball. He was sensational.”
The Texans got a big game from Kevin Walter (12 catches for 160 yards), but they clearly missed the big-play ability of Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, who sat out his fourth consecutive game because of a knee injury. The Texans are 1-3 without him.
Ahman Green returned from a two-week absence and ran for 44 yards, another sub-par rushing performance for Houston. Schaub was 19-of-31 passing for 259 yards with an interception. He was replaced by Sage Rosenfels late.
Garrard was considerably better. He finished 22-of-34 for 221 yards and still hasn’t thrown an interception all season. He also ran for 26 yards.
“I’m playing smart,” Garrard said. “I’m putting the ball in the right positions and not letting them get their hands on it.”
The Jaguars were fortunate to be ahead 10-6 at halftime.
The Texans easily could have been up 17-0 early. They had first-and-goal at the 3-yard line on the opening drive, but had to settle for a short field goal.
They were driving again on the next possession and appeared to score on Schaub’s 10-yard pass to Andre’ Davis. Replays showed Davis fumbled just before the goal line—the ball was knocked loose by Sammy Knight—and the call was overturned. The ball bounced out of bounds for a touchback.
The Jags had more luck later. They converted two fourth-down plays, recovered an onside kick and scored following a strange call.
Garrard’s 1-yard TD pass to George Wrighster was initially nullified by a pass interference penalty, but officials waived off the flag after they decided Greg Estandia had blocked his defender from the start of the play.
Jacksonville then recovered an onside kick, which set up John Carney’s 37-yard field goal that gave the Jaguars the lead for good, 10-6.
“We’re going to lick our wounds and get ready for Tennessee,” Texans linebacker Danny Clark said.
Taylor was in for two plays in the second half, then sat out the rest of the way because of tightness in his groin. … Jaguars C Brad Meester (ankle) returned after missing the first four games and bolstered the running game. … Rosenfels was 11-of-12 for 82 yards, including a 1-yard TD pass to Vonta Leach in the final minute. … The Texans were 1-of-5 in the red zone.