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Jaguars Manhandle Texans in Trenches, Win 37-17

Houston Texans defensive back DeMarcus Faggins, right, deflects the ball from Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones

The Jacksonville Jaguars set aside their divisional history on Sunday when they played the Houston Texans. History was on Houston’s side as the Texans wiped out the Jags twice last year, but the Jags let it be known before Sunday that Jacksonville has a new and improved team.

Jacksonville QB David Garrard, RBs Maurice Jones Drew and an injured Fred Taylor, along with a skilled set of receivers fed off the work that a tremendous offensive line put in Sunday. The Texans defensive line, which has given many quarterbacks trouble, found their toughest matchup. Defensive linemen Okoye, Johnson, Weaver and Williams were kept under wraps as DT Anthony Maddox was the only Texan to register a sack. The linebackers were too slow for a fast and pounding run game behind the wheels of a two-back system. RBs Maurice Jones Drew ran for two touchdowns with 125-yards on 12 carries. Overall, he had 260 all-purpose yards. Every run or reception began with an immediate five yards or more off the line followed by two to three Texans defenders attempting to tackle the speedy and short back while the play usually ending with a fourth Texan finally making the tackle, if not too late. It usually took Drew two plays to get the first off a reception or run. RB Fred Taylor, who broke a long wrong early, had six carries for 90 yards.

The primary reasons for the Jags success was their strong run game anchored by a powerful offensive line that shut down the Texans by managing the clock. In fact, the second quarter was all Jacksonville after Houston failed three times in the red zone to score a touchdown. Houston came out of those trips with only 2 FGs. Their second red zone trip ended in a fumble by WR Andre Davis on the 1-yard line before he was able to score a touchdown.

Failing in the red zone may be partly due to Shaub’s inexperience in the starter role. This problem has stuck with the Texans since day one of 2007, but these new Texans still have shown courage and the ability to persist under pressure. The Texans pulled out everything they could as they may have won this game if it wasn’t for so many turnovers and bad red zone play. Shaub had a fumble (returned for a TD) and a pick (caught and taken away by a Jacksonville defender). The Texans failed three red zone attempts that led to Jacksonville’s taking of momentum after the first half.

The battle in the trenches was won by Jacksonville by a long slide. The Jags’ offensive line destroyed the likes of Houston’s Chester Pitts and Eric Winston. Salaam had trouble again, but it all is understandable. Jacksonville’s defense is something to be reckoned with and their matchup with Indy on Monday Night may show Texans fans that all teams have bad days. This bad day just so happened to go against the nastiest defense the Texans have played against, and it created the worst day of the Texans-Kubiak era. But RB Ahman Green was not to blame for a poor performance where he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry (44 yards rushing). The offensive line was simply overpowered by the Jags defensive line with Stroud, Henderson and Spicer. One thing’s for sure, the Jags are real good.

The Texans had their chances in the first half to capitalize off two fumbles by Jags WR Reggie Williams and a missed 40+-yard FG by John Carney, but the Texans were never able to score anything more than Kris Brown Field Goals. Their only TD came late in the game when QB Sage Rosenfels drove the Texans down the field with a multitude of passes to the likes of WR Kevin Walter, who stepped up big on Sunday, and TE Owen Daniels. Walter caught 12 passes for 160 yards. He was the most consistent player for the Texans.

For the Texans, now 3-3, they need to start controlling the clock like they had done in their first two wins of the season. Next week Tennessee comes to Houston, and Vince Young, if healthy, will have it in for him against a disappointed and aggressive defense ready to get back in the win column.

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