JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Somebody’s losing streak of considerable length had to come to an end Thursday night.
Though the Jacksonville Jaguars had won three of their previous four games, they hadn’t managed a victory at home since defeating the Tennessee Titans in November of last year. They were finally able to end that drought at the expense of the Houston Texans, who have lost 11 in a row after a 2-0 start.
Unlike when the teams met less than two weeks ago in Houston and combined for just one touchdown, the end zone wasn’t so hard to reach. That no doubt came as a relief to the NFL Network, which doesn’t have the luxury of rescheduling its prime-time matchups late in the season like NBC does on Sunday nights.
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Here are five observations from the 27-20 victory that improved the Jaguars’ record to 4-9:
1. Miss the start of a game now, and you’ll miss a lot.
For the fourth time in the past five weeks, the Jaguars scored on their opening possession. On third-and-goal from the 1, tight end Marcedes Lewis was lined up wide to the left and matched up against Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson. Chad Henne recognized the 8-inch height advantage by lobbing a pass in the end zone that only Lewis could snag.
The 13-yard play, 80-yard drive included a scramble of 14 yards by Henne, his longest run of the season. He won’t be mistaken for Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick anytime soon, but the crowd was clearly delighted to see a quarterback display some mobility and pick up a first down in the process.
As if to show that mad dash wasn’t a fluke, Henne took off running up the middle again on the Jaguars’ next series for a 9-yard gain. But a holding penalty against guard Will Rackley on the previous play put them in a second-and-long situation, and the drive fizzled out.
2. Scrap the thought of seeing Teddy Bridgewater in a Jaguars uniform.
If (or when) the Jaguars draft a quarterback in the first round next May, chances are Bridgewater won’t be available. Unless the Texans somehow finish the season by beating Indianapolis, Denver and Tennessee, they will be picking ahead of the Jaguars. And while Case Keenum didn’t look horrible before being pulled for Matt Schaub, he is no more of a long-term solution than Henne.
Henne threw for two scores during the first half, giving him four in the past two weeks after he had a total of four all season before that. His 6-yard strike to Cecil Shorts III was set up by a 33-yard pass interference penalty when safety Shiloh Keo made contact with Shorts.
But there was a collective groan when Henne overthrew Shorts, who had gotten at least five yards behind the Texans’ secondary, with less than a minute to go before halftime.
3. Say this much for the Jaguars: They’ve never had 10 penalties for 115 yards in a half this season.
The Texans set new standards for sloppiness, particularly in the second quarter. The period began with Keo’s lengthy penalty and ended with a pair of blunders by safety D.J. Swearinger that allowed the Jaguars to retain possession on a drive culminated by Josh Scobee’s 40-yard field goal.
The Jaguars were about to squander an interception by cornerback Alan Ball when Henne threw an incompletion on third down. But Swearinger was flagged for taunting, resulting in an automatic first down, and got caught holding on the very next play to wipe out an interception by Eddie Pleasant.
Hard as it might be to believe, the Texans were penalized only twice for 22 yards in their earlier meeting with the Jaguars.
4. Andre Johnson almost turned into the second coming of Josh Gordon.
After surrendering 261 receiving yards to Gordon in their win over the Cleveland Browns, it wasn’t crazy to think the Jaguars could see Johnson go off in similar fashion. He went into the game with 82 catches for 1,123 yards, as well as a chip on his shoulder from his comments in the Texans’ locker room following the 13-6 loss to the Jaguars.
But he had only two receptions for 14 yards in the first half. Not surprisingly, Johnson’s numbers improved in a hurry and in a big way once Schaub replaced Keenum. He finished with 13 catches for 154 yards.
5. Does noise carry better at night than during the day?
Although the Jaguars had a season high in tickets distributed for a home game (60,414), there were still noticeable stretches of empty seats. That being said, the crowd sounded louder than at any other time all season.
Maybe that was simply because the Jaguars gave their fans plenty to shout about for a change.
Next up: Buffalo. EJ Manuel is more than the answer to the question of who was Florida State’s quarterback before Jameis Winston.