HOUSTON, Texas – Marqise Lee got his wish. For the Jaguars, that turned out not to be enough.
Lee, the Jaguars' third-year veteran wide receiver, fulfilled his season goal with a kickoff return for a touchdown – but the play couldn't stop the Jaguars' historic losing streak.
Lee's 100-yard kickoff return for a third-quarter touchdown gave the Jaguars a double-digit lead, but the Houston Texans rallied for a 21-20 victory over the Jaguars in front of 71,803 at NRG Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Lee's return came with 6:50 remaining in the third quarter, and gave the Jaguars a 20-8 lead.
The Texans, after trailing 13-5 at halftime, had just cut the lead to 13-8 with a 45-yard field goal by Nick Novak with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter. The Texans then made it 20-11 with a 43-yard field goal by Novak with :11 remaining in the third quarter.
A 27-yard by Novak with 7:50 remaining made it 20-14, Jaguars. The Texans took a 21-20 lead when running back Lamar Miller scored on a 1-yard run with 2:51 remaining. The play capped a 52-yard, eight-play drive.
The Jaguars' offense then picked up two first downs before turning the ball over with an incomplete pass by quarterback Blake Bortles on 4th-and-15 from the Jaguars 40 just after the two-minute warning.
Safety Quintin Demps intercepted Bortles on the Jaguars' final possession to clinch the victory.
The Jaguars (2-12) now have lost a franchise single-season record nine consecutive games. The previous record was eight consecutive losses at the start of the 2013 season.
The Texans improved to 8-6 and remained in first place in the AFC South.
Bortles completed 12 of 28 passes for 92 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. The Jaguars' struggled offensively much of the game, finishing with 150 yards.
The Jaguars had 65 second-half yards.
Texans quarterback Tom Savage played the final two-and-a-half quarters, completing 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. Starting quarterback Brock Osweiler was benched after throwing two first-half interceptions that helped the Jaguars take a 13-0 second-quarter lead.
The Jaguars took a 3-0 lead with kicker Jason Myers converted a 26-yard field goal with 13:36 remaining in the second quarter.
The Jaguars then extended the lead to 6-0 with a 50-yard field goal by Myers on their next drive. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey – who had a memorable day with five pass breakups – set up the field goal with a 35-yard interception return to the Texans 25-yard line.
It was the first career interception for Ramsey, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. It also was the first interception by a Jaguars cornerback this season.
An interception by linebacker Telvin Smith on the ensuing series set up the Jaguars' first touchdown.
Smith intercepted Osweiler to give the Jaguars possession at the Texans 37. A 31-yard pass interference call against Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye covering wide receiver Allen Robinson gave the Jaguars 1st-and-goal at the 3.
Bortles scored on a one-yard run to the left side of the end zone two plays late to give the Jaguars a 13-0 lead with 8:32 remaining in the half.
The Texans missed a chance to cut into the lead in the ensuing possession. On Savage's first possession after replacing Osweiler, the Texans drove to the Jaguars 1. On 2nd-and-goal from there, running back Akeem Hunt appeared to score a touchdown when he recovered his own fumble in the end zone. But officials ruled they couldn't find a video replay with a clear recovery, setting up third-and-goal from the one.
Safety Jarrod Wilson stopped Miller on the ensuing play, and Ramsey defensed Savage's safe pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the corner of the end zone on 4th-and-1 to end the threat.
The Texans got their first points of the game on the Jaguars' ensuing series when tight end Neal Sterling held in punt protection. That made it 13-2, Jaguars, with 1:35 remaining in the half.
The Texans pulled to within 13-5 on the ensuing series when Novak converted a 40-yard goal with :49 remaining in the half.
*PLAYER OF THE GAME … Jalen Ramsey, cornerback. *No other Jaguars player was remotely close to this on Sunday. Ramsey had four huge plays in the first half, including a 35-yard interception return to the Texans 25 that set up an early field goal. Ramsey also broke up a fade to Hopkins in the corner of the end zone on 4th-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter to cap a goal-line stand. Ramsey finished with five passes defensed, and also separated Hopkins from a third-down pass with a violent hit in the third quarter.
The Jaguars finished with 150 yards total offense. They managed just 85 yards and five first downs in the first half.
The Jaguars allowed the Texans 387 total yards, including 172 yards and nine first downs in the first half.
Special teams hurt again – and helped, too. A week after a penalty-filled game from the special teams in a loss to Minnesota – and after struggles in the area all season – the Jaguars' special teams gave the Texans their first points on Sunday when Sterling held on punt protection late in the first half. That looked like a defining special teams moment – until Lee's 100-yard kickoff return became a game-turning play in the second half.
INJURY UPDATES …
Jaguars linebacker Sean Porter sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter.
Cornerback Aaron Colvin sustained an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return, and guard Jeremiah Poutasi left the game permanently with a second-quarter ankle injury. Josh Wells replaced Poutasi and sustained a game-ending shoulder injury shortly thereafter. Wells was then replaced at left guard by Tyler Shatley.
Sterling left the game in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. left in the fourth quarter with a hip pointer.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill sustained a calf injury in the fourth quarter.
Seven players were ruled inactive for the Jaguars Sunday. They were:
Wide receiver Allen Hurns (hamstring), running back Denard Robinson (ankle), offensive guard Chris Reed (toe), center Luke Bowanko, defensive end Chris Smith, quarterback Brandon Allen and cornerback Josh Johnson.
*Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien moved past the 100-tackle mark for the season for the third consecutive season midway through the first quarter.
*Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny surpassed the 900-tackle mark for his Jaguars career, joining linebacker Daryl Smith as the only players in Jaguars history with 900 or more tackles.
*The Jaguars haven't allowed a touchdown on the game's opening drive in the last five games. …
*The Jaguars' double digit leads Sunday were their first such leads since a Week 4 victory over the Colts in London.
*Lee's touchdown return tied a franchise record for longest kickoff return for a touchdown with Maurice Jones-Drew's 100-yarder against New Orleans in 2007. That was the last time the Jaguars returned a kickoff for a touchdown.