December 7, 2003
Texans Lay Goose Egg
by Keith Weiland
Rookies Dave Ragone and Tony Hollings spent all season watching from the sidelines hoping to see some time on the field. With both getting the starting nod on Sunday to relieve their injured counterparts, perhaps they got more they bargained for against a tenacious Jacksonville team.
The Texans, making their ninth attempt at winning back-to-back games, lost to the Jaguars 27-0. Falling well short of sparking a winning streak, the team will have to pin its hopes on lucky attempt number ten. History will not be on their side, as the Texans have now been outscored 257-102 in those nine previous contests.
Over-matched on both sides of the ball, the Texans failed to put a single point on the scoreboard on Sunday for the first time in franchise history. The loss dropped the Texans to 5-8, just one game ahead of the Jaguars for third place in the AFC South division.
Quarterback Byron Leftwich and the Jaguars got the ball rolling early when, having noticed that cornerback Aaron Glenn was a step slow due to a nagging groin injury, challenged him deep with the speedy Jimmy Smith. The 32-yard pass and catch gave the Jaguars the 7-0 lead and all the points they would need with 5:29 left to play in the first quarter.
Following a field goal by Jags kicker Seth Marler, Jacksonville stretched their lead to seventeen just before halftime when running back Fred Taylor pushed his way for two yards and into the end zone. The touchdown capped off an impressive 9-play, 84-yard drive that began inside of two minutes to play in the first half.
The Jaguars kept piling on the points in the second half as well. Backup running back LaBrandon Toefield found daylight behind the block of right guard Chris Naole to make the score 24-0 early in the fourth quarter. Another field goal by Marler with 1:55 to play ended the game’s scoring.
Ragone, starting the game due to a shoulder injury and stomach flu to David Carr, completed 11 of 23 passes, including one to himself. The pass came with 0:14 to play in the first half as defensive tackle Marcus Stroud batted the ball back at Ragone, who then caught it for a loss of five yards.
Hollings didn’t fare any better in his starting debut. Subbing for Domanick Davis as he sat out with a deep thigh bruise, Hollings ran for only 19 yards on 18 carries. Hollings also fumbled on the game’s first possession.
Tight end Billy Miller led all Texan receivers, bringing in four of Ragone’s passes for a total of 29 yards. Reserve wide receiver Derrick Armstrong came into the game late to collect two more receptions for 13 yards.
On defense, linebacker Jamie Sharper led the way again with nine tackles. Despite giving up 390 yards of offense to the Jaguars, the defense did get to a slow-footed Leftwich on a couple occassions. Safety Eric Brown and linebacker Shantee Orr converged on the Jaguar quarterback for a sack to force fourth down in the first quarter. Linebacker Jay Foreman also rushed on a delayed blitz to lay a clean hit on Leftwich.
Sadly, those were two of only a few bright spots on the afternoon for the Texans. The 27-point differential was the worst defeat since losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-14 in Week Three.
Diaper Dandies Get Some P.T. Regardless of the results, it was nice to get some live snaps for Dave Ragone and Tony Hollings. That neither played as well as hoped is disappointing, but having gained the on-field experience should help both of them as they continue to develop as NFL players.
Billy Miller Much like he was for David Carr a year ago, Miller was again productive as a safety valve for a rookie Texan quarterback. With the game already out of hand, Miller was still fighting hard, as evidenced by a short pass from Ragone that he used to bully his way for one of the game’s few first downs.
Ragone’s Scrambling At roughly 245 pounds, Ragone is a load to bring down. Unable to find too many open receivers on Sunday, Ragone was not shy in tucking the ball and heading downfield, becoming the team’s best yardage gainer on the ground. While Ragone’s five rushes for 51 yards isn’t exactly Rookie of the Week material, it did keep the offense on the field a little bit longer to give the defense a much needed rest.
Run Defense Jaguars running backs had one of their best performances of the season, as Fred Taylor and LaBrandon Toefield combined for 217 rushing yards. The defense failed on several occasions to fill gaps and wrap up the backs, most noticeably on the 62-yard burst by Taylor in the fourth quarter in which Jay Foreman and Eric Brown both over-pursued and were taken well out of the play.
Domination in the Trenches Houston’s offensive and defensive lines were more stripped down than the jail bait featured in Abercrombie and Fitch ads. Jags’ end Tony Brackens collected two sacks, and tackle Marcus Stroud batted down several of Ragone’s passes. The Texans’ front seven was manhandled by the Jacksonville’s offensive line, opening up countless large holes so that Jaguar backs averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per attempt. Both Jacksonville lines did their part to keep the Texans offense off the field, as they won the time of possession by more than ten minutes.
Tony Hollings Tough day for the second round supplemental pick from Georgia Tech. Averaging about a yard per carry, Hollings looked tentative and slower than advertised. His running style appeared unorthodox with several wasted movements, a sign of his inexperience at the position and lack of playing time while recovering from a knee injury. His first quarter fumble was somewhat excusable given the brutal nature of the hit he absorbed, but he could learn to protect the football better. Hollings wasn’t given much room to run by his offensive line, but he was ineffective at breaking any tackles.
Aaron Glenn is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL when he’s healthy. Problem is he hadn’t completely recovered from a groin pull by gametime, and the lingering effects really caused him to lose a step while trying to cover one of the league’s most dangerous veteran receivers, Jimmy Smith.
After Glenn was called for holding Smith at the 10:54 mark of the first quarter, it became evident to the Jaguars that they should look to challenge Glenn again. Five minutes later, quarterback Byron Leftwich did just that, as Smith jetted past Glenn for a 32-yard touchdown reception and a 7-0 lead.
Week 13 Review Dave Ragone fends off Marcus Stroud to attempt a forward pass. Final Score Houston Texans 0 Jacksonville Jaguars 27 Lookin’ Good
It was one of those games where the brief word from the CBS advertisers became all-too-brief. The relief given by those commericals to the Texans and their fans meant a stretch of time when the Jaguars defensive line wouldn’t be in the Texan backfield.
Oh, my eyes!
Hard to pinpoint any one particular play, pass blocking or run blocking, but Randall had a game he’ll want to forget. Jaguars defensive end Tony Brackens beat Randall repeatedly on Sunday to pressure Ragone, including two times for sacks.
2003 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.09 Denver 12-20 08.15 at Dallas 6-34 08.23 San Diego 17-19 08.28 at Tampa Bay 3-34 Regular Season 09.07 at Miami 21-20 09.14 at New Orleans 10-31 09.21 Kansas City 14-42 09.28 Jacksonville 24-20 10.05 Bye — 10.12 at Tennessee 17-38 10.19 New York Jets 14-19 10.26 at Indianapolis 21-30 11.02 Carolina 14-10 11.09 at Cincinnati 27-34 11.16 at Buffalo 12-10 11.23 New England 20-23 11.30 Atlanta 17-13 12.07 at Jacksonville 0-27 12.14 at Tampa Bay 3-16 12.21 Tennessee 24-27 12.28 Indianapolis 17-20 Overall Record 5-11