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Open Locker Room: Total team effort

Posted Nov 24, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars HC Gus Bradley calls the Jaguars’ second victory in as many weeks a complete team effort: “We held strong.”

HOUSTON, Texas – This game wasn’t about one phase.

That was one of the things that pleased Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley about a 13-6 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday.

Yes, the defense played well for a third consecutive week, but this victory wasn’t just about holding the Texans to just over 200 yards and it wasn’t just about not allowing a touchdown.

“We battled through adversity in all three phases and we held strong,” Bradley said shortly after the Jaguars held off a late Texans drive in front of 71,659 at Reliant Stadium.

The Jaguars (2-9) won their second game since a Week Nine bye because their run game had its best game of the season, and because the defense did, too.

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for a season-high 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, with his 1-yard touchdown on the first series of the game giving Jacksonville a 7-0 lead it never relinquished.

The Jaguars’ 118 yards as a team were also a season-high. They averaged 4.2 yards per carry after averaging 1.8 last week against Arizona and 2.0 the week before that against Tennessee.

“It is a process up front,” Bradley said. “We had good blocking up front. I thought it was more consistent blocking, and that’s what we were striving for.”

Defensively, the Jaguars limited Texans to 218 total yards, the fewest they have allowed this season. They also limited the Texans to 77 yards rushing. The Jaguars entered the game as the NFL’s No. 32-ranked run defense, but have held their last three opponents under 100 yards rushing, including a 14-yard effort by Arizona last week.

“We’re consistently getting better week in and week out with the running game,” Bradley said.

The Jaguars also held Texans quarterback Case Keenum to 169 yards on 18-of-34 passing with wide receiver Andre Johnson catching only two passes for 36 yards.

The defense forced just one turnover, but it came on the Texans’ last play when first-year defensive end Ryan Davis intercepted a deflected pass from Keenum to secure the victory.

“To keep a team like that to six points is a big deal,” Bradley said.

 

GAME-SEALER

Davis spent the first nine games of the season on the practice squad. He spent the end of the game Sunday securing the Jaguars’ victory.

Davis, a first-year veteran who was activated late in the week before the Jaguars’ loss to Arizona last week, played just eight plays in his first game active. He was more involved on Sunday, getting an early pressure on Keenum in the first half.

Aside from that, he didn’t appear on the statistic sheet – that is, until the Texans’ final play.

On third-and-10 from the Jaguars 41-yard line, Keenum threw to wide receiver Keshawn Martin, who bobbled the pass, tipping it into the air. Davis, trailing the play, intercepted it one-handed at the Jaguars 36, returning it to the 44-yard line to clinch the victory.

“Isn’t it great?” Bradley said. “The guys were so happy for him. You celebrate the victories. You celebrate the plays within the game that are huge plays for guys. It was a hustle play. He was rushing, came out of the side and was there for the tip.

“It validates what we’ve been talking about. So many catch phrases that we use with the defense to encourage them to use good technique – that was one of them there.”

 

INJURY REPORT

Jaguars running back Justin Forsett sustained a foot injury in the third quarter and did not return.

Wide receiver Mike Brown and cornerback Will Blackmon missed the game with AC joint injuries, with defensive end Jeremy Mincey not making the trip because of a violation of team rules. Ace Sanders started in place of Brown.

 

QUOTABLE

1.Jones-Drew on Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne: “We knew going into this game it was going to be hard to contain that defensive line. When you stand in the pocket and take hits like that, it makes guys want to go out there and make plays for you.”

2.Jones-Drew: “The run game kind of clicked today. Credit to the offensive line and our guys blocking – our fullback, the tight end, our receivers downfield. I thought today was our best game of being a balanced offense – run, play-action pass, quick game. Guys were making plays.”

3.Henne on the running game: “It was great. The run game only helps the passing game. If you can run the ball, you can keep the balance and keep those guys up front honest so they can’t just tee off and rush the passer. We’re really excited about it. We just have to keep on addressing it week in and week out.”

4.Bradley on the game’s lone touchdown coming on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter: “At that time, we wanted to go for it early in the game. We preach to our guys we’re going to be bold when the opportunity presents itself.”

5.Bradley: “With our offense, we’re finding out that we have to generate explosive plays somehow in order for us to be more successful.”

 

NOTABLE

1.Henne played much of the game under pressure. He completed 23 of 39 passes for 239 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions while being sacked four times, including three times in the first half. “We were giving our guys (offensive linemen) one-on-one matchups at times,” Henne said.  “Sometimes, you’re going to get hit; sometimes, you’re not. Overall, I thought the offensive line did a good job. They fought through and played well.”

2.Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III caught eight passes for 71 yards, being targeted 11 times. Shorts had expressed disappointment in how he was used following a loss to Arizona last week. “He had his opportunities out there and it was good to see him make some big-time catches,” Henne said, with Bradley adding, “He knows that the statement he made was strong. I was really excited for him because he came out this week and had opportunities and really captured it.”

3.The Jaguars scored a touchdown on their opening drive for a third consecutive game for the first time since 1998. “Obviously, that’s not a bad thing,” Bradley said. “It’s a credit to (offensive coordinator) Jedd (Fisch) to get our guys in good position to make plays and then for the guys to come through.”

PHOTO GALLERY

WHAT’S NEXT: The Jaguars will visit the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.

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