Resurgent Jags send Texans to 11th loss in a row

Danny Aller, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Don't look now, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are the hottest team in the AFC.
After starting the season 0-8, the Jaguars are now 4-1 since their bye week after holding off the Houston Texans 27-20 Thursday night in their lone prime-time outing of the season.
The Jags' run of three consecutive victories is the longest current winning streak in the AFC. The latest win came as Jacksonville overcame its struggles at home and in night games.
"We needed this heightened environment, we needed that challenge to see if we could maintain focus, trust our principles and trust our preparation," said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, whose team won for just the second time in its past 11 prime-time games and captured its first victory at home after losing seven straight dating back to November 2012. "I told them (during practice this week) that I don't need any (record-breaking) performances from you guys -- I just need your best. I thought our guys gave us their best."
After more than a year of losing at home and seeing fans often leave after halftime, the Jaguars finally gave their faithful reason to stick around.
Quarterback Chad Henne passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. He completed 12 of 27 passes. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew finished with 103 yards on 14 carries, breaking the century mark for the first time this year. Jones-Drew, however, injured a hamstring early in the fourth quarter and did not return.
The Jaguars also got a 21-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Ace Sanders to running back Jordan Todman in third quarter.
"The city of Jacksonville continues to support us, and it's great to get them a win finally," said Henne, who also rushed for 33 yards on four carries, twice picking up first downs with his feet. "Hopefully we can get two more (in the final two home games)."
Houston (2-11) lost its 11th consecutive game -- a franchise record.
The Jaguars nearly squandered a 14-point lead twice before prevailing. Jacksonville got a key fourth-and-1 stop with 3:37 to play, and Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes made a crucial interception with just over two minutes remaining.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who finished with 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception, replaced rookie starter Case Keenum late in the third quarter and nearly rallied the Texans to the win. Schaub completed 17 of 29 passes.
"I thought Matt gave us the best chance to win. Case struggled," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of his decision to bench Keenum, who was 16-for-29 for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "Unfortunately, we didn't get it done."
Keenum was picked off by Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball late in the first half, leading to a Josh Scobee 40-yard field goal that gave Jacksonville a 17-7 lead at the break.
After Houston got a 34-yard Randy Bullock field goal on its second possession of the third quarter, Jacksonville answered immediately with a 21-yard, trick-play touchdown pass from receiver Ace Sanders to backup running back Jordan Todman.
The play is called the "Gamecock," according to Henne, and is an homage to Sanders' alma mater, South Carolina.
"He looked good on that throw," Henne said with a smile.
Houston had two chances to take the lead in the final five minutes but failed both times.
When Schaub entered the game, he led Houston to 10 unanswered points, a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Graham and a 31-yard Bullock field goal. However, Hayes' interception all but sealed the Texans' fate.
After the pick, Jacksonville bled the clock until 30 seconds remained, and Scobee booted a 39-yarder to make it 27-20.
Jaguars linebacker Ryan Davis sacked Schaub deep in Houston territory to end the game.
"Great defensive plays down the stretch on that fourth-down stop and the interception," Bradley said of his defense, which got 13 tackles from linebacker Paul Posluszny and 10 tackles from safety Jonathan Cyprien. "I have to give (defensive coordinator) Bob (Babich) a lot of credit. We made some adjustments (when they brought Schaub in), and we held on."
Texans star wideout Andre Johnson, who was limited to two catches for 36 yards in the teams' last meeting, led all receivers with 154 yards on 13 receptions. Ben Tate was Houston's top running back, but he only managed 53 yards on 14 carries. The Texans finished with 83 rushing yards.
"I don't think we've lost our composure," Johnson said. "It's just frustrating. We just want to win. I'm tired of losing."
Houston's defense, which began the night ranked third in the NFL, was paced by defensive backs Kareem Jackson and D.J. Swearinger, who had six stops each. All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt was held in check with just three tackles and no sacks.
NOTES: The Jaguars became the last NFL team to earn a home win this season. ... The Jags were 0-4 in games shown on the NFL Network before Thursday's win ... Thursday's game was the Texans' third contest in 12 days ... The Texans will try to snap their 11-game losing streak next week when they play the Colts in Indianapolis. Jacksonville will play the Buffalo Bills in the second of three consecutive home games.

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