Texans Scare Up a Win

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October 31, 2004
Texans Scare Up a Win

by Dave Sabo

Despite being dominated everywhere except the scoreboard, the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) were poised to mount another last minute drive and send their AFC South match-up with the Texans into overtime. Cornerback Demarcus Faggins had different plans. Stepping in for an injured Aaron Glenn, Faggins picked off Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich and raced untouched into the endzone to cap a 20-6 win.

Dressed for Halloween in their Battle Red jerseys, the Texans (4-3) got off to a fast start, moving the ball easily while holding Jacksonville to a three-and-out on their first possession.

Quarterback David Carr drove the Texans down to the Jacksonville 15, completing all four of his passes. On second and ten, he avoided the rush, sprinted right and hit Corey Bradford for a touchdown.

After holding the Jaguars to three plays and a punt for a second time, Carr again drove the Texans deep into Jacksonville territory. On the verge of taking a commanding 14 to nothing lead early in the second quarter, the Texans went to wide receiver Jabar Gaffney on the end around. Executed flawlessly, it was a play on which Gaffney could have strolled into the end zone. Instead, he attempted to switch the ball from his left to his right hand, fumbled it into the endzone, and then out of bounds. The initial call was a touchdown, but Jags head coach Jack Del Rio challenged and erased the points.

Jacksonville took over on their own 20 and would have suffered another three-and-out after gaining just 10 yards on a third and 11; however, DE Robaire Smith was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty. With new life, Leftwich marched the Jags into field goal range and cut the lead to four on a Josh Scobee 44-yard field goal.

After trading possessions, the Texans were left with a 53-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left in the first half, which Kris Brown pushed wide left. But, the Jaguars were flagged for “leverage” when Marcus Stroud used a teammate to elevate himself attempting to block the kick. The personal foul cost Jacksonville 15 yards, and Brown converted an easier 38-yard kick to send the Texans into the locker room with a 10-3 lead.

The Texans defense continued it’s dominating play to start the second half, again holding the Jags to three plays.

Carr had the Texans on the move until WR Andre Johnson fumbled at the Jacksonville 30-yard line. Jacksonville recovered but was again forced to punt after a short drive.

Driving again, Carr victimized the Texans when, after an incompletion on second and ten in which he felt he was hit late and re-aggravated an ankle injury, he pulled his helmet off and threw it down in disgust earning himself a 15-yard personal foul and killing the drive.

The teams traded field goals and, after failing to run on the clock, the Texans were forced to punt. The stage was now set for another last second drive by Leftwich and Company; however, Faggins and the Texans drove a dagger into the Jags hearts with the interception and touchdown on the second play of the drive.

The Texans held Jaguars running back Fred Taylor to 9 yards on 3 carries, knocking him out of the game early with bruised ribs. His replacement, LaBrandon Toefield, didn’t fare much better, carrying 5 times for 22 yards. Carr won the battle of the young guns, throwing for 276 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions on 26 of 34 passing. Leftwich threw for 226 yards on 25 of 40 passing with no TD’s and 2 interceptions including the game ender by Faggins.

With the win and the Colts loss in Kansas City, the Texans are now in the thick of the AFC South division race and a player in the Wild Card picture. They travel to Denver next week having won 4 of their last 5 and riding a wave of momentum to take on the Broncos. What Went Right?

The Entire Defensive Unit The Texans defense held the much-hyped Leftwich to a 57.0 quarterback rating and, though they only recorded one sack, got after him all day long, forcing him to rush throws. They constantly putting a lick on him and picked him off twice. Additionally, they completely shut down Jacksonville’s rushing game, holding the Jaguars to 39 yards on just 12 carries and relegating Fred Taylor to cheerleading duties after putting him on the sideline with bruised ribs.

Passing Game Carries the Offensive Burden David Carr is coming into his own, and he and his cadre of young receivers have become a force to be reckoned with. As the running game continued to sputter, Carr again drove the Texans offense. Hitting seven different receivers, he went over 200 yards passing for the seventh game this season. He ended the day with a 109.4 passer rating.

Special Players on Special Teams Brown was two-for-two on field goals, and J.J. Moses averaged 17 yards on 2 punt returns and 27 yards on 2 kick returns. The real special teams hero though was punter Chad Stanley. While he only averaged 38.8 yards on two punts with one downed inside the 20, his run and juke on a fake field goal to keep a late drive alive.

What Went Wrong?

Protecting the Football Another couple of lost fumbles brings the Texans total on the season to eight. Both were inopportune, but Gaffney’s fumble as he was strolling into the endzone was especially costly as it cost the Texans six points.

Bad Penalties at Bad Times Robaire Smith’s Roughing the Passer and Carr’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties extended and killed their respective drives. Additionally, Leftwich’s Delay of Game penalty on third-and-six early in the fourth quarter wiped out a Jason Babin sack and allowed the Jags to convert third-and-eleven on the ensuing play.

Running Game Has Run Away When you rush for just 93 yards on 32 carries, there’s a problem. Especially when your quarterback, wide out and punter account for 35 of those yards. Yikes.

Key Play Of The Game

Four times this season the Jaguars have won games with drives in the final minute. Only two other teams have as many last gasp wins since 1983! The stage was set for a fifth comeback as the Jaguars took possession on their own 33, trailing by seven with 56 seconds left in the game. All hopes of forcing overtime with a last minute scoring drive were dashed two plays later as Faggins streaked down the sideline to put the game away for good.

Week 7 This should start looking familiar to the Jaguars any moment now… Final Score Houston Texans 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 6 Lookin’ Good

Battle Red Jerseys
Ya know, if the Texans were to make a permanent change to the red jerseys at home, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Oh, and that unblemished 2-0 record they have wearing them doesn’t hurt, either.

Oh, my eyes!

Jabar Gaffney’s Fumble
Taking the ball on an end around, Gaffney could have walked in for six. Instead, he tried switching the ball from his left to his right hand (the better one for him to spike with, he says) and fumbled the ball out of the end zone. Instead of a 14-point lead, Jacksonville took over on their own 20, and a laugher turned into a nailbiter.

2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27 09.19 at Detroit 16-28 09.26 at Kansas City 24-21 10.03 Oakland 30-17 10.10 Minnesota 28-34 10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 BYE — 10.31 Jacksonville 20-6 11.07 at Denver 13-31 11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22   Overall Record 7-9