HOUSTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 24-21 victory over the Houston Texans in a 2023 Week 12 game at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…
- Anyway you get it. Here's the ultimate NFL truth, and it's an uber-ultimate truth when it comes to late-season NFL games. You don't complain about closeness of victories, or how they happened. The Jaguars on Sunday grinded their way to a victory over the Texans. They missed opportunities throughout the game to make it more comfortable, and some of those missed opportunities came in the second half. As a result, they needed a late defensive stop – and they needed a touch of misfortune for the Texans. They got the defensive stop on the game's final drive by scratching, clawing and somehow stopping Texans rookie C.J. Stroud and an offense that kept coming back all day Sunday. They got the misfortune for the Texans – and good fortune for the Jaguars – when Houston kicker Matt Ammendola's 58-yard field goal bounced off the cross bar with :29 remaining. "When our backs are against the wall, we play really good football and we have to find ways to continue to channel that every week," Jaguars tight end Evan Engram said. A foot. Or a half a foot. That was difference in victory and overtime for the Jaguars Sunday. They needed a break. They got it. Any way you can get it in this league in November, folks.
- Credit to the quarterback. We could talk about Head Coach Doug Pederson's aggressive first-half call that surely will be debated. We could – and should – talk about the Jaguars' defense, which was mostly very good Sunday. But for Quick Thought No. 2 on this day, let's go with Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. His statistics were impressive – 24 of 38 for a season-high 364 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He also rushed for a touchdown, which means he has three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns in the last two games. Sunday's game was billed as Lawrence versus Stroud, a matchup that could define this division for the next decade. Stroud won Round 1 in September. Credit Lawrence for a big-time performance on the road Sunday to give he and the Jaguars Round 2 – and a two-game division lead entering December.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …
- "Winning is hard in this league." No doubt you've heard that phrase time and again. It's 100 percent accurate. The Jaguars had a 10-point lead with just over nine minutes remaining Sunday. After the Texans failed to convert on fourth-and-one, Lawrence and Co. had the ball at the Houston 46-yard line. It seemed at the time the Jaguars would add some points – but more importantly run the time down to where Stroud wouldn't have time to rally. But the Jaguars couldn't kill more than two minutes and a missed 55-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus gave the ball back to the Texans right where they were near the 46 yard line with just two minutes drained since their previous possession. Stroud and the Texans added a touchdown, forced a punt and had a chance to win it. They lost by the rotation of the oblong football. So maybe by a foot? That victory was huge for the Jaguars, deflating for the Texans and came down to the final snap despite a 10-point lead for the visitors. It's tough, really tough, to win. That makes the Jaguars' unblemished road this season even more impressive than 5-0 might indicate.
- Allen earned every penny he'll get on a mega-contract in the spring. There's not much more to say. Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen has a career high 12 sacks in a season in which he bet on himself. He told me last summer his focus was on finishing this season – and not on the money for which he was playing following this season. The sack and a half he posted on Sunday's final drive were the kind of plays great players make on the road with the pressure amped up and the crowd roaring in game that probably decides the AFC South title. He looked me in the eye in the hotel lobby when the Jaguars spent the week in Detroit in August and said he would finish this season. He did. The Jaguars shouldn't think twice when it comes to keeping Allen in the house for the long term and it says here that they won't.
Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...
- Once again, Pederson goes all in. I was not surprised Pederson elected to go for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. Pederson has never been one to play it safe. The Jaguars failed to score before halftime as running back Travis Etienne Jr. was stopped short of the goal line. Yet, the dramatic ending of the game serves as a stark reminder that there are no guarantees in football.
- It's time to pay the man. Allen came up with two huge sacks on the Texans' final drive Sunday. On the first, Stroud scrambled 15 yards backward before Allen brought him down. The second sack of the drive was a joint effort with outside linebacker Travon Walker resulting in a nine-yard loss. The plays created long distance downs and ultimately won the game for Jacksonville. Allen has gone above and beyond this season on a team that has been buoyed by the defense. It's time to pay him. He has more than earned it.