New Jags Fournette and Campbell lead way in win over Texans
HOUSTON (AP) Jacksonville got its first season-opening win since 2011 thanks to a pair of players making their Jaguars debuts.
Fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette ran for 100 yards and a touchdown and free-agent acquisition Calais Campbell had four of Jacksonville’s franchise-record 10 sacks in a 29-7 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
”I think it shows the young guys that we can do really good if we do it the right way and believe a little bit,” said Campbell, who joined the Jaguars after nine years with the Cardinals. ”Sometimes it takes a couple of big wins for you to really believe. But this is just one win, and it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t go out there and play next week.”
Campbell’s four sacks were the most by a Jaguars player and Fournette became the first player in Jacksonville history to have at least 100 yards rushing and a touchdown in his first game.
”Everybody kept talking about how great their defense was, but I believe in my O-line,” Fournette said. ”They did an excellent job today.”
Blake Bortles threw for 125 yards and a touchdown and Dante Fowler returned a fumble 53 yards for a score as the Jaguars snapped a six-game skid against Houston.
A 42-yard field goal by Jason Myers made it 3-0 in the first quarter and he added one from 25 yards early in the second.
The Texans punted on their first four possessions, and the fifth one ended when Tom Savage fumbled on a sack by Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars recovered the ball.
Fournette added his 1-yard touchdown after that, but the kick failed, leaving Jacksonville up 12-0.
Coach Doug Marrone was impressed with his performance, but is stressing to him the importance of not letting opponents get under his skin.
”That’s the only thing I spoke to him about,” Marrone said. ”Stay focused. Stay in your game. Don’t let them get you out of your game.”
Some things to know about the Jaguars-Texans game:
Jacksonville’s plans for the week were uncertain as Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sunday and threatened to affect all of Florida. Teams normally return home immediately after games, but the Jaguars were staying in Houston on Sunday night and will decide what their next step is on Monday.
The storm could also affect their game next Sunday with the Jaguars scheduled to host Tennessee.
The Texans, who have had a revolving door at quarterback in recent years, face a quarterback controversy heading into Thursday’s game against the Bengals after Tom Savage was benched at halftime for rookie Deshaun Watson.
Coach Bill O’Brien wouldn’t reveal who would start on Thursday, adding that he needed more time to make a decision.
Both quarterbacks committed two turnovers working under near-constant pressure Sunday. Watson gave Houston its only touchdown when he connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 4-yard pass in the third quarter.
Savage said it was difficult to be benched, but that he’ll be prepared for whatever role he’s put in next week.
”As a competitor, you want to be out there,” Savage said. ”I worked my tail off for this. But I wouldn’t trade any of those guys … for anybody. They’re my guys, I’ve got this team’s back and like I said I’ll be ready to go.”
Houston’s J.J. Watt played for the first time since Sept. 22 after missing 13 games last season after back surgery, but injured his finger in the first half and finished with just one tackle.
He thrilled the crowd during an emotional pregame ceremony devoted to victims of Hurricane Harvey when he carried a Texas flag onto the field as he was introduced, and was disappointed the team didn’t put on a better show for the fans.
”It’s not good when that’s the highlight of your day,” he said. ”That was a good moment and it was downhill from there for the rest of the day. I need to play a lot better football and obviously we all need to play a lot better football.”
Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team had not released details of Robinson’s injury. Robinson landed awkwardly on his left knee while making a catch in the first quarter and did not return.
Houston linebacker Brian Cushing, tight ends Ryan Griffin, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Stephen Anderson and receiver Bruce Ellington all left the game with concussions.
The Texans might have to promote Evan Baylis from the practice squad for Thursday’s game with all three of their tight ends in the concussion protocol this week.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this story.
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