JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser breaks down five key plays from the Jaguars' 27-25 loss to the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday
1.Luton early 73-yard touchdown pass to Chark.This set an early tone – and allowed the Jaguars to be in the game throughout. Jake Luton, the Jaguars' rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance – and first NFL start – hit third-year Pro Bowl wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. in stride down the left side of the field for a 73-yard touchdown. "It's something that we ran in practice multiple times," Chark said. "Actually, we didn't hit it at practice." Chark beat Texans cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on the reception, which came on the game's third play and gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead. "He (Chark) beat him pretty bad and I just had to give him a good ball that he could run through and make a play, and he finished it off," Luton said. "I was really excited; it was awesome." The play came on Luton's second pass of the game and gave the Jaguars their first first-possession touchdown of the season. Chark said while Texans safeties shaded coverage toward him after the play, the Texans played the receivers "honestly" on the play – which allowed Chark to beat Hargreaves one on one without safety help. "They are pretty good at not letting you get outside releases, so we took an inside release, got back outside and Jake threw a good ball," Chark said. "The safety got over late, something that they changed late in the game, but when a team gives you something that you see that you can attack, you have to get it. You only get one shot at it. We were able to complete it."
2.Watson early 57-yard touchdown pass to Cooks.Two players after Chark's touchdown, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson found wide receiver Brandin Cooks on a short pass just over midfield. Cooks got around the Jaguars' defense and ran the final 40 yards untouched to tie the game 7-7 with 13:33 remaining in the first quarter. The play continued the effectiveness of Watson/Cooks against the Jaguars this season; Watson passed for 359 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-14 victory over the Jaguars in October, a game in which Cooks caught eight passes for 161 yards and touchdown.
3.Lambo's 59-yard field goal.Special teams and turnovers kept the Jaguars in the game Sunday – and kicker Josh Lambo unsurprising was a big part of that theme. Lambo, whose absence led to a month of uncertainty at kicker for the Jaguars earlier this season, converted a 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. It marked the 40th time in 40 attempts he had converted a field goal at TIAA Bank Field, a streak he pushed to 41 with a 30-yarder in the third quarter. The 59-yard field goal also tied the franchise record set by Josh Scobee in a 31-28 victory over Indianapolis in 2010. Most importantly for the Jaguars Sunday, it cut the Texans' lead to 20-16 and gave the Jaguars momentum entering halftime. One area of concern on this front: Lambo while attempting a late-game onside kick re-injured the hip that kept him out four games before the bye, according to Head Coach Doug Marrone. "It didn't look good," Marrone said.
4.Henderson interference and Fuller touchdown.These two are packaged together – because together they made for a tough day for Jaguars rookie cornerback CJ Henderson. The No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Henderson late in the first half was called for a 50-yard interference penalty covering Texans wide receiver Will Fuller. The play keyed a six-play, 98-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by running back Duke Johnson that gave the Texans a 20-13 lead with :27 remaining in the second quarter. The Jaguars cut the lead to 20-16 before Fuller beat Henderson down the right sideline midway through the third quarter; Fuller cut inside Henderson, caught the pass and ran the final 30 yards untouched for a 77-yard touchdown and a 27-16 Houston lead with 6:05 remaining in the quarter.
5.The stiff arm, the spin move and the incomplete pass.Luton led an impressive 80-yard drive in the final minutes – completing five of six passes for 67 yards and capping the possession with a 13-yard run for a touchdown that pulled the Jaguars to within two points. Luton on the touchdown run not only stiff-armed linebacker Jonathan Greenard, he followed that with a spin move on cornerback Keion Crossen that put freed him to finish the run. "I wouldn't say it (running) is my strength, but I think it's something I can do that not a lot of people think I can because I'm a bigger guy," Luton said. "I've run the ball before and it's not something I choose to do but when the opportunity arises, I'm going to try and go out and make a play with my feet and I was able to do that. It was fun, it was pretty cool to have that play." Luton was asked if he preferred the spin move or stiff arm. "Probably the stiff arm," he said. "I think with the spin move, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was trying to make something happen, so probably the stiff arm." Luton's pass to Chark on the two-point conversion was incomplete and off target. "Just a bad ball," he called it. "Really, no other excuse for it. DJ is our guy and we're going to try to get the ball to our playmakers and let him win us a game. I didn't give him a shot, so it's something I'll have to keep working on and we'll come back and get it right."