Takeaways from Jaguars 27-20 Victory Over Houston

The Jaguars swept the season series from the Texans, winning at home for the first time since last December, topping Houston 27-20. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for over 100 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. It was the Jaguars one and only game in prime time in 2013. The Jaguars improved to 4-9 on the season with the win. Here are my takeways from the game.

1. It felt like a big game. For the first time in I don’t know how long, the Jaguars played in a home game that felt like a big deal. Clearly, playing the game at night brought something extra to the game, but it was more than that. The crowd responded and despite some empty seats, there was an energy in the building, especially in the first half. And for the second straight week, when the Jaguars needed to make a play late to win a game, they did, this time, it was linebacker Geno Hayes picking off a Matt Schaub pass with 2:08 left in the game.

2. Lots of players showing improvement-This has been Gus Bradley’s central theme since arriving in Jacksonville: improve every day. There are a number of players who showed improvement Thursday night. Among them:
-Defensive end Ryan Davis produced some pressure on Case Keenum in the first half.
-Marcedes Lewis-Caught the game’s first touchdown, and later snatched a pass from above a defensive player, reeled it in, then ran for a long gain.
-Rookie defensive back Demetrius McCray-made a couple of strong plays on special teams.
-Defensive end Andre Branch-notched another sack.

3. The Texans can be all kinds of bad.For much of the game, the Texans played like a team mired in a 10 game losing streak. To wit:
Penalties-In the first half alone, the Texans committed 10 penalties for 115 yards. The most egregious of which is listed below in the –“Play of the Game section.” The Texans finished with 14 penalties for 177 yards.

–Turnovers, including two of the worst interceptions you will see (including the late 4th quarter pick by Geno Hayes).

–Effort-For much of the first two and a half quarters, the Texans looked like a team that wanted to catch a flight out of Jacksonville after the game. Things changed when Matt Schaub replaced Keenum at quarterback with 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Schaub proceeded to march the Texans downfield on a touchdown drive that brought the Texans to within seven points.

4. When it’s going well, it goes well-For the second week in a row, a non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass. Last week it was Maurice Jones-Drew. This week, it was Ace Sanders who took a wide receiver screen (actually a lateral) and threw to running back Jordan Todman for a touchdown. It’s clear that, not only is offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch getting more comfortable with his players, but the players are more confident within the offense. Its to be expected, but nonetheless, its a good, positive step for the young team.

5. Maybe Chad Henne wasn’t joking-After the bye week, Chad Henne told us that the team was hitting the reset button and that they could go 8-0 in the second half and make the playoff. We all laughed. How quaint. But here are the Jaguars, winners of 4 of 5 since the break, and with three games remaining against the Bills, Titans and Colts. It’s not inconceivable that the Jaguars could win out and finish the season 7-9. If that happens, Gus Bradley deserves some consideration as coach of the year.

Player of the Game (Jaguars edition)-Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball 14 times for 103 yards and caught 2 passes for 20 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.

Play of the Game-Has to go to Texans safety DJ Swearinger, who, after the Texans had stopped the Jaguars on a third down play late in the second quarter, was flagged for taunting. The Jaguars kept the ball and wound up with a Josh Scobee field goal to give the Jaguars a 17-7 halftime lead.