Things have gone from weird to almost fantastically bizarre in the AFC South. The Houston Texans can’t stop losing, reaching 11 in a row, while the Jacksonville Jaguars, until not too long ago the worst team in the NFL, have the longest winning streak in the conference, picking up a third straight with their 27-20 win.
The Jags haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record: Their first win this season came against the Tennessee Titans, followed by beating Houston (twice) and picking up another one against the Cleveland Browns. Suddenly, 2013 is an improvement to last season, reaching a 4-9 record, with games against Buffalo, Tennessee and the Colts left on the schedule.
For the Texans, it’s the same old story of the offense, and specifically the quarterbacks, ruining it for the others. Case Keenum started, finishing with 16-of-29 for 159 yards. He did throw a touchdown pass to Keshawn Martin, but he was also intercepted, and eventually replaced by Matt Schaub in the third quarter. Schaub? The same: 17-of-29 for 198 yards; a touchdown pass to Garrett Graham, and an interception.
The Jags didn’t do anything special. Chad Henne was inaccurate at 12-of-27, but did throw two touchdown passes, while Ace Sanders also got himself involved in more than just receiving, throwing a touchdown pass to Jordan Todman in the third quarter, giving Jacksonville a 14 point lead they wouldn’t let go of.
Our guys just really believe. The biggest challenge is to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a young team that’s learning how to do this. For what they’ve gone through and to stick to it and have some results go their way, it’s pretty cool. Our team continues to show that they’re sticking to it, believing and making plays at critical times.
Jacksonville was the worst team in the league when reaching the red zone before their most recent win, scoring a touchdown on only 25% of their trips. Against the Texans, they scored touchdowns in two attempts, and have scored a touchdown on eight of their 12 red zone trips since their Week 9 bye, tied for the second-highest rate in the league over that span. It really helped the Texans were getting killed on the penalties, 177 penalty yards, the most by any team in a single game since 2001.
It was quite surprising to see Maurice Jones-Drew, the running back wasting away in Florida, doing so well for a change. He rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries, his first 100+ game since Week 3 last season, doing most of the damage when running between the tackles (98 yards), 8.2 per carry in those tries, more than double his average going into the game.
Where do we go from here? Nowhere really. The Texans keep on losing close games, and seem like a team searching for a shred of pride to hang onto as the season draws to a close. They’re posting some nice numbers, like Andre Johnson catching 13 passes for 154 yards but this season is one long painful decay that just won’t end. For the Jags, finishing second in the division is possible, although unlikely, but the sudden momentum shift and sense of belief makes this team quite dangerous, with nothing to lose but confidence that previously wasn’t there.