HOUSTON – Costly errors and an inability to take advantage of Houston’s mistakes gave the Jacksonville Jaguars another loss to a previously winless team on Sunday and left them in last place in the AFC South.
Deshaun Watson threw for a season-high 359 yards and three touchdowns and the Texans got their first win of the season with a 30-14 victory in the wake of coach Bill O’Brien’s firing.
“We’ve got to look in the mirror, re-evaluate and just find a way to win,” Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew said.
Jacksonville has lost four straight since winning its opener and Sunday’s loss made the Jaguars the first team in NFL history to lose three straight games to previously winless teams, not including season openers.
Sidney Jones intercepted Watson twice, giving the Jaguars a boost on a day they played without three defensive starters because of injuries. But his big plays weren't able to help much as Jacksonville couldn’t convert either of the turnovers into points.
Stephen Hauschka missed a 49-yard field goal on the last play of the first half after the first interception by Jones. That miss came after Hauschka had missed from 24 yards with 37 seconds left in the second.
The Texans led 13-7 after a field goal early in the third quarter and were driving later in the third when Jones intercepted Watson again. He returned it 48 yards and would have likely scored if Watson didn’t tackle him.
But the Jaguars came away empty again, as rookie running back James Robinson fumbled after taking a direct snap on fourth down from the Houston 10 and it was recovered by J.J. Watt.
“When you have a time where you have the situations like we’ve had, especially after the turnovers, or having the ball on the 2- or 3-yard line, you’ve got turn those into points,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “We weren’t able to do that. That’s on all of us.”
The Jaguars also had a short field on the drive before Watson’s second interception after a 40-yard kickoff return by Keelan Cole put them at their 40. But Robinson was stopped for a loss on first down before Minshew was sacked and then threw an incomplete pass to force a punt.
“The effort of how they’re playing is — I can’t ask for more,” Marrone said. “Now we can play smarter and we can make some plays? Yes, and these are the things that we’re going to have to do. And we’re going to have to go out and get ourselves a win because it stinks.”
Minshew did some good things on Sunday, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
His second one came on a 4-yard pass to rookie Collin Johnson on fourth-and-4 to cut the lead to 20-14 with about 10 minutes remaining. Chris Conley had a 51-yard reception earlier in the drive to get the Jaguars in scoring position.
The Texans led 23-14 after a field goal with about 7½ minutes to go and got the ball back when Jacob Martin sacked Minshew and forced a fumble. It was recovered by Whitney Mercilus, who fumbled on the return, but the Texans pounced on the ball to keep it.
Houston put the game away when Watson found Brandin Cooks on a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-4 with about five minutes remaining.
While the Jaguars had a good day in the passing game, they struggled to run the ball. Houston entered the game allowing an NFL-worst 181.8 yards rushing a game, but held Jacksonville to just 75 with Robinson managing only 48.
Now the Jaguars are left searching for a way to get on track before they host the Lions next Sunday. Minshew was asked how they can do that and the quarterback didn't have any answers.
“We were actually just talking about that in the locker room, trying to figure out what it is, what’s missing, because we have moments where we feel really good about it, and we’ve just got to figure out how to be more consistent and keep moving forward,” he said.