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'Awesome' Protection in Jaguars Week 12 Win Over Texans | Game That Was

2023 NFL Week 12: Jaguars vs. Texans at NRG Stadium
2023 NFL Week 12: Jaguars vs. Texans at NRG Stadium

HOUSTON, Texas – Doug Pederson put it directly and succinctly.

And if the Jaguars' head coach's words didn't define everything about a crucial late-season division victory, they spoke volumes about the recent play of what until recently was one of the team's more criticized groups.

"My hat's off to the offensive line," Pederson said.

With reason.

The Jaguars on Sunday beat the Houston Texans, 24-21, at NRG Stadium to take a two-game lead in the AFC South with six games remaining. It was the Jaguars' biggest late-season road division victory in recent memory, and perhaps their biggest road victory ever in the AFC South.

One of the victory's defining statistics:

  • Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who thew for one touchdown and ran for another while throwing for a season-high 364 yards, was not sacked. The Texans' defense was credited with two quarterback hurries.

"They did a great job; protection was awesome," Lawrence said. "No sacks today."

Lawrence, after being sacked five times in a Week 10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, has been sacked once in the last two games with the lone sack in a Week 11 victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday a one-yard loss with Lawrence running out of bounds.

"Those guys are playing their tails off," Lawrence said.

Sunday's performance came in a game in which Cam Robinson, the Jaguars' starting left tackle since 2017, left in the first quarter with a knee injury. Third-year veteran Walker Little, who started the first four games of the season at left tackle with Robinson on suspension, moved from left guard to left tackle after Robinson's injury.

Ezra Cleveland, acquired in a trade-deadline deal several weeks ago with the Minnesota Vikings, replaced Little at left guard.

"We had Ezra jump in there and had to play the rest of the game, and he did a great job," Lawrence said. "He's going to help us, and it's cool to see him be able to get up to speed that fast. He just got here. They did a heck of a job obviously stepping in for Cam. Hopefully all is well with Cam. Definitely praying for him and hope it's nothing major. But that guy (Robinson) brings a lot of energy and worked hard to get back from injuries in the past, so you kind of hate it for him.

"Hopefully it's nothing major, but it's cool to see those guys step up and be able to shuffle around and still play well, and protection was awesome."

Pederson said he likely would update Robinson's status Monday, adding of the line's performance: "Quarterbacks feel comfortable when they're getting protection."

"When Cam went down, we had to shuffle Walker out and Ezra coming in, and proud of those two guys for taking on that role," Pederson said. "They did a great job, and really the whole offensive line did a great job keeping [Lawrence] clean and upright and to have the type of day that Trevor did today."

Pederson added of Lawrence, "He just seems to get better each week, and we'll take a look at this film and make the corrections and continue to improve."


  • While much was made of a potential long-term rivalry between Lawrence and Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, Lawrence admitted after Sunday's game the idea doesn't excite him as much as it perhaps does some observers. "I want the teams in our division to be as bad as possible, so that's how I see it," Lawrence said with a laugh. "The way they [the Texans] are playing, it's exciting. There are going to be some, I'm sure, great matchups down the road, and C.J. is playing lights out. He's doing a great job. To be a rookie and to play how he is, I've got a lot of respect for him. I know how hard it is. I've been in that position. He's doing a great job, and it's going to be fun for years to come. But no, I wouldn't prefer that. I'd prefer if the guys in our division didn't have good quarterbacks. It would be better for us."


  • Lawrence: "It takes a lot of perseverance to go finish those games, especially when there are some mistakes and some things that happen. They made some huge plays throughout the game to really flip the momentum and stay in the game and then give themselves a shot. For us to be able to go finish, our defense there, getting those sacks, that was huge. It's cool to see our defense be able to finish the game for us."
  • Jaguars tight end Evan Engram on Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen, who had 2.5 sacks Sunday – one and a half on the game's final drive – and who now has a career-high 12 sacks this season: "He's one of our best leaders. Josh did his thing today. He's an anchor of our team. He's the anchor of that defense. Guys are playing around him and through him. The defense has been awesome all year. And he's one of the guys leading it."

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