JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) DeAndre Hopkins could be a huge problem for the Jacksonville Jaguars for years, maybe even the next decade.
The budding star caught 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Houston Texans beat the lowly Jaguars 31-20 on Sunday. It was Houston’s eighth win in the last 10 meetings.
And unless Jacksonville finds a way to slow down the 23-year-old Hopkins, the recently lopsided series might not turn.
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”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,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said.
Hopkins put on quite the show against the Jaguars (1-5), who lost their fourth straight.
The third-year pro made a catch down the sideline in which he trapped the ball with one hand against his helmet just before going out of bounds. He bobbled a ball briefly in the back of the end zone before securing it for a 9-yard touchdown. And he smoked cornerback Davon House with a double move on the next possession before hauling in a 26-yard score.
And that was just Hopkins’ fourth-quarter highlights for the Texans (2-4).
”We played complimentary football,” Hopkins said. ”It wasn’t just the DeAndre Hopkins show. This was the Houston Texans show.”
Try telling that to the Jaguars, who felt like they did a good job on Hopkins for three quarters. House shadowed Hopkins all over the field and even made some plays early.
But the Texans adjusted and found ways to get Hopkins the ball.
”One or two plays can determine how you do out there,” House said. ”In the first three quarters, we shut him down with a few pass breakups. Then the fourth quarter came, they took some shots and capitalized.”
Here are some things we learned about the Texans and the Jaguars:
HOYER SHINES: Hoyer looked every bit deserving of the starting job. A week after regaining the position from Ryan Mallett, Hoyer threw three touchdown passes on third down, two to Hopkins. Hoyer completed 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards. He even bounced back from a vicious hit in the fourth quarter, a shot that forced him to the sideline for one play.
”You never want to get hit like that,” Hoyer said. ”It’s one of those things where you get hit, you kind of have to assess yourself and there’s a little bit of showmanship, too, to make sure you get the penalty. I didn’t know I would have to come out of the game. I guess I stayed down too long, but I was able to bounce right up and get back in the game.”
WATT NOT WELL: Texans star J.J. Watt wasn’t himself Sunday. Watt was downgraded to questionable on the injury report Saturday because of an illness and it showed. Watt, who had six sacks in two games against Jacksonville last year, finished with two tackles, a batted pass and a quarterback hurry. He said afterward he was exhausted and needed sleep.
SHORTS RETURNS: Texans receiver Cecil Shorts III caught four passes for 63 yards in his return to Jacksonville, where he spent the first four years of his NFL career.
”I was excited coming back,” Shorts said. ”I’m not going to lie to you. When you have played somewhere for four years, start your career there, you want to have a good game.”
INJURIES: Houston backup safety Lonnie Ballentine sustained a ”significant” knee injury. Trainers rushed to put Ballentine’s leg in an air cast before carting him off the field. … Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson bruised his leg and was using a crutch after the game. … Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (ankle), Jaguars running back Corey Grant (quadriceps) and Jaguars receiver Tony Washington (quadriceps) also were hurt.
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