October 27, 2002
Brown Pays Dividends
by Ric Sweeney
The Jaguars were once again victimized by an unreliable kicker Sunday, making the Texans’ decision to sign restricted free agent Kris Brown during the offseason look like a stroke of genius.
Brown, who cost Houston a four-year deal, not to mention a 2003 seventh round draft pick, calmly nailed a 43-yard field goal with 2:11 remaining to give Houston its first-ever road victory, 21-19, on Sunday.
Brown’s counterpart, Tim Sedar, who was signed by Jacksonville this week after the Jags released Hayden Epstein (who missed 5 of 9 field goals in his brief Jaguar tenure), missed two field goals, including a 35-yarder with :03 left in the first half which kept the Texans within two, 9-7. Sedar also missed a 50-yard attempt in the first quarter. Jag kickers are now an unremarkable 5-of-12 on the year.
Brown’s game-winner, and an out-of-nowhere trick play on a late punt return, helped redeem a much-maligned special teams unit that once again struggled Sunday after an abysmal performance last week in Cleveland. Brown missed a 45-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and Chad Stanley had a punt blocked in his own end zone that, fortunately for Houston, rolled out the side of the end zone for a safety. Obviously, had Jacksonville recovered the block, either deep in Houston territory or, worse, in the end zone, the game’s outcome may have been dramatically altered.
Jacksonville hit pay dirt first in the second quarter. Taking over after Brown’s miss, running backs Fred Taylor and Stacy Mack moved Jacksonville 40 yards before QB Mark Brunell hit WR Jimmy Smith for a 25-yard touchdown. After an exchange of punts, QB David Carr went to work, completing two passes for 38 yards, the last, an 11-yard strike to TE Jabari Holloway, set up Jonathan Wells’ 3-yard scoring run, the first rushing touchdown by a Texan back this year.
Down, 9-7, after the blocked punt, Houston took the lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, again riding Carr’s right arm. The rookie completed both of his passes on the drive, one to TE Billy Miller for 37 yards, the other to Holloway for 6. On the day, Carr was 6-7 for 122 yards and a touchdown on Houston’s four scoring drives; 11-18 for 184 yards a touchdown overall. He did not throw an interception for the third consecutive game.
Brown finished the drive by banging a 43-yard field, and with 12:21 left in the third quarter, Houston led, 10-9. After another defensive stop by the Texans, Carr fumbled a center snap, which Jacksonville recovered at Houston’s 23. But the Texan defense stiffened and Jacksonville settled for a 34-yard field goal from Sedar, pushing the Jaguars back in front entering the fourth quarter, 12-10.
Houston then embarked on perhaps it’s most impressive drive of the season, starting at their own 20 with 1:00 to go in the third, RB James Allen rushed 6 times for 29 yards, and Carr hit Miller after a remarkable play fake, delivering a picture-perfect 40-yard pass to the tight end in perfect stride, which moved Houston to the Jacksonville 6. After Allen was unable to punch it in, Carr rolled left and hit Miller in the back of the end zone for the 1-yard touchdown pass. Following the score, Carr hit Jabar Gaffney on the two-point conversion and Houston led, 18-12 with 11:33 remaining.
Back came Jacksonville. Brunell hit TE Pete Mitchell for 16 yards on 3rd-and-2 and Mack plowed in from 2 yards out, and Houston once again fell behind, 19-18, with 7:46 remaining. But unable to run out the clock, Jacksonville was forced to punt from their own 34 with 3:21 remaining. On the return, Gaffney fielded the punt, whirled to his left and flung a perfect pass to CB Aaron Glenn, who raced 47 yards to the Jacksonville 33. Playing conservatively, Houston ran Allen 3 times before giving way to Brown.
For longtime Oiler fans, the win was somewhat redeeming; Jacksonville’s first-ever win as a franchise came against Houston in 1995.
Pass Rush For the first time all year, the Texans outsacked their opponents, 5-4. And none were bigger than Kailee Wong‘s two on Jacksonville’s final drive. In addition to the sacks, Houston put consistent pressure on Mark Brunell, who was hit and chased for much of the game.
Why isn’t he starting?! He didn’t see a lot of action, but Allen, spelling an ineffective Jonathan Wells, rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries, including 33 yards on Houston’s two fourth quarter scoring drives.
Playing to Win With 13:09 to go in the game, and trailing 12-10, Chris Palmer had Carr playaction (which he did perfectly) and sent Billy Miller streaking downfield for a big 40-yard hook-up. After unsuccessfully trying to punch it in on first and second down from the Jacksonville 6, rather than settling for the field goal, and the lead, Palmer again called Miller’s number in the back of the end zone for the 1-yard score. And we haven’t even discussed the Tennessee Throwback…
Special Teams For three quarters, the Texans’ special teams picked up where they left off in Cleveland. Bobby Shaw returned a punt 46 yards, Kris Brown missed a 45-yard field goal and Chad Stanley had a punt blocked in his own end zone.
Defensive Penalties The Texans’ defense nearly sunk another perfectly respectable performance with an ill-timed penalty. This time, Gary Walker was flagged 15 yards for roughing the passer, which moved Jacksonville to the Texans’ 28. Five plays later, Stacey Mack scored the go-ahead score, 19-18, with 7:46 remaining.
Center Snaps Twice, David Carr fumbled center snaps, the second time resulting in a turnover which led to a third quarter field goal. There’s either a problem with Steve McKinney‘s delivery, or Carr’s not concentration; hopefully, whatever the problem is, it can be corrected quickly.
With 3:32 to go in the game, and Houston trailing, 19-18, Aaron Glenn knocked a huge third down pass to the ground, forcing a punt. That, in and of itself, was a key play. But Glenn wasn’t done.
On said punt, return man Jabar Gaffney fielded it cleanly, stepped back four yards to his right and threw cross field to Glenn, who had a wide-open field and a convoy of blockers ahead of him. Glenn rushed 47 yards to the Jacksonville 33, taking the pressure off the young Carr and setting up Brown’s game-winning field goal. It was such a pretty play, we’re willing to forgive a) DB Chris Carter not taking out the punter; b) Glenn getting caught by the punter.
Offense It wasn’t the prettiest game of the year, and several players, including Carr and Miller, turned in workman-like performances, but James Allen‘s change of pace running in the fourth quarter keyed the Texans’ 80-yard drive, which briefly netted them an 18-12 lead with 11:33 to go.
Defense Better late than never. Kailee Wong, who’s been a bit of a disappointment so far, came up big on the Jags’ final drive. Wong sacked Brunell twice on back-to-back plays, accounting for 7 yards in losses.
Joe Marciano, the special teams coach. They took it on the chin last week, and while his unit struggled again early, he more than redeemed himself with the Tennessee Throwback; what a call!
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 0 7 3 11 21 Jags 0 9 3 7 19 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 18 11 184 1/0 Brunell 34 16 202 1/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 10 40 4.0 0 Taylor 25 84 3.4 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Miller 3 78 26 1 Smith 4 80 20 1
Cincinnati Bengals 2002 Record: (0-7) 11.03.02 | 12pm
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review