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.
Jacksonville already led 7-0 by that stage, parlaying daring play-calling during a 10-play, 75-yard drive that started with the Jaguars throwing on the opening seven snaps of the possession. With little to lose aside from their 10th game, the Jaguars went for it on fourth-and-goal from the Houston 1 and Jones-Drew converted by skipping past Texans end Jared Crick and into the end zone at the 10:57 mark.
The Jaguars' defensive dominance did not relent and even extended as far as stifling Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, whose second and final catch of the afternoon came during the Texans' last gasp.
"He's a great player, and he's been doing it for years," Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien said of Johnson. "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 Johnson). Things we worked on in practice (happened) in the game, and we capitalized on it."
With 29 seconds left in the second quarter, the Texans had pushed deep enough into Jacksonville territory thanks to Dennis Johnson's 50 first-half rushing yards for Randy Bullock to nail a 49-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 10-3.
Bullock added a 20-yarder with 8:26 left in the third quarter but only after Houston stalled inside the Jaguars 10. That moment of ineptitude was one of many for Houston.
"Obviously, we didn't execute, simple things like running and passing," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "That (not scoring touchdowns) is a big struggle. Obviously, he (Keenum) can play a lot better. I have to do a better job with him, too. The more you play, the more you see."
NOTES: The Jaguars entered play ranked 29th in the NFL in average yards allowed yet limited the Texans to just four yards on 12 plays in the first quarter. ... Houston closed the first half netting 2.3 yards per play. The Texans were ranked 13th in the league averaging 5.3 yards per play. ... While setting up a 30-yard Josh Scobee field goal in the second quarter, Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew broke off a 45-yard run, his longest of the season. ... Texans DE J.J. Watt blocked a Scobee 49-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter, his second blocked field goal in four games.