Trevor Lawrence throws the ball in Week 1 game against Houston
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Jaguars Fall to Texans in Jacksonville

The visiting Houston Texans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-16 in their Week 15 matchup.Sunday in Jacksonville.

Jags interim head coach Darell Bevell and the Jaguars start the post-Urban Meyer era 0-1.

Early Penalties Take their Toll on Jacksonville

The Jaguars defense opened the game with a stout 3-and-out stop. Safety Andrew Wingard, tackle Malcom Brown and linebacker Myles Jack made their presence felt early for Jacksonville during Houston’s first possession.

However, on the Texans punt, an illegal use of hands penalty against Jacksonville lineman Adam Gotsis gave Houston an automatic first down. This penalty would end up leading to what was the eventual first score of the game – quarterback Davis Mills finding his top receiver Brandin Cooks up the middle of the Jaguars secondary for a 22-yard touchdown. Mills moved the ball decently well on the drive, hitting Cooks with multiple targets early.

Davis Mills finished the game 19-30 for 209 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while Cooks finished with 7 receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Jaguars Get On the Board

With 2:29 remaining in the first quarter, Houston defenders Garret Wallow and Jonathan Owens came together to stuff Jags running back James Robinson at the goal-line on third down. This resulted in a field goal, Jacksonville’s first points of the game – Matthew Wright put it through from 22-yards out.  The Jaguars first scoring drive would end up being 9 plays for 79 yards in just under five minutes.

Highlight Play of the Game

On the kickoff following the Jaguars field goal, former Chief Tremon Smith went a full 98 yards to the pylon for the Texans second touchdown.

Smith is the first player to score on a kickoff return for the Texans since Jacoby Jones did it against the Raiders a dozen years ago – it also marks Smith’s first NFL touchdown.

Plays like that, special team breakdowns such as those, are just disheartening—even more so for a team in a position like that of the Jaguars. After falling into an early hole in the ensuing game of Urban Meyer’s firing, it would have been easy for Jacksonville to fade away. However, that would not happen.

Rayshawn Jenkins was injured for Jacksonville on the return. He remained out for the duration of the game.

His future status is questionable.  At the end of the first quarter, Houston led by 11.

Second Quarter Points

The Jaguars opened the second quarter, after a first with virtually no offensive rhythm, with a 10 play, 75-yard drive resulting in a one yard rushing touchdown for James Robinson. At this point, the score was 14-10, Houston, with 12:13 remaining in the half – Jacksonville was very much in this.

The remainder of the half was headlined by two 50-plus-yard field goals from Houston’s Ka’imi Fairburn, one from 51 and the other from 52 yards out. He finished the game 3 of 3 on field goals and 3 of 3 on extra points.

Outside the pair of long three-point kicks, the rest of the half was a back and forth affair that saw Houston take a 20-10 halftime lead.

Touchdown-less 40 Minutes of Football

In the third quarter, points were hard to come by.  The time between James Robinson’s early second-quarter score and the next touchdown by either team: 39 minutes and 41 seconds.

That next touchdown came with 2:32 left on the fourth-quarter clock in what was the final blow to put the Jaguars away. It was Mills once again connecting with Cooks, this time on a short pass to the left sideline which Cooks would turn into a 43-yard score. Before the play, Jacksonville was right there in it – down just seven. It was 23-16 after a Jaguars field goal earlier in the quarter at the 11:22 mark.

It’s only fitting that the play which opened this game, a Mills to Cooks touchdown, would be the play that closed it out.

After going down 14 late, this Sunday afternoon matchup was a lost cause for the home team – who never led in the game.

A Story of 3rd-Downs

Looking at the final team statistics, this was a fairly even matchup.

Total yards: 296-281 Jaguars

Total offensive plays: 66-57 Jaguars

Average gain per offensive play: Texans (4.9), Jaguars (4.5)

Penalty yards: Texans (65), Jaguars (40)

Time of Possession: Jaguars (29:53), Texans (21:46)

Both teams went 3-3 on field goals.

These numbers aren’t lopsided by any means. In fact, if anything, Jacksonville would seemingly have had a slight advantage based on these statistics alone. So, what was it exactly that led to their ultimate demise in front of the home crowd? The final stat on the list: third-down efficiency.

Texans: 55.6 percvent on 10-18

Jaguars: 21.4 percent on 3-14

This has to be a major focus for Jacksonville moving forward into the closing weeks of the season. Especially with a young quarterback, converting on third down is absolutely crucial. A major part of that is actually first and second down. The Jaguars have got to find a way to move the ball forward. Too many times, they’ll find themselves in tough 2nd and long, third and long positions. Getting positive yards on first and second down could lead to less difficult third downs for Lawrence and this Jacksonville offense. Games will not be won, not in this league, with a sub-25% efficiency there – especially against defenses like Houston’s, who aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. The Jaguars have got to find ways to get positive yards consistently and make the game easier on themselves.

Tyson Campbell Speaks on Team Aura in the Post-Urban Era

Jaguars defensive back Tyson Campbell, a second-round pick in this past year’s draft out of Georgia, recorded his second career interception in this game. He picked off Mills early in the fourth at Houston’s 25.

He spoke after the game on the team aura over this past week following the firing of Urban Meyer and promotion of Darrell Bevell.

“…it was positive. I think it’s just bringing us closer together as a team … I think we’re just more tight knit.”

If you’re a Jaguars fan, this is exactly what you want to hear from the young guys. While times may be tough, spirits remain high and heads are being kept up. It would seem that the changes being made are being received well in the locker room.

 

About Zackary Weiss

Zackary is currently studying Sports Journalism at the University of Florida. He has years of experience providing online content for various news outlets in every form, as well as experience running multiple sports-related social media accounts with high followings. He does work for WRUF / ESPN Gainesville by producing the radio broadcasts in addition to writing online content. Zackary's planned graduation is May 2024. Please feel free to contact via email at zackweiss48@icloud.com. Links to Zackary's social media accounts are directly below.

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