JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley wanted this one to be like the others.
That meant approaching a prime-time, nationally-televised game Thursday at EverBank Field pretty much the same as the Jaguars had approached their last four games – and really, all 12 of their previous games this season.
It meant not worrying too much about the surrounding, or storylines, or anything else. The Jaguars did just that.
As a result, the result was pretty much the same as it had been lately, too.
The Jaguars, who lost their first eight games of the 2013 season, won for the fourth time in five games Thursday, taking a 14-0 lead and holding on for a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans at EverBank Field.
"What I wanted from our team was to keep it the same," Bradley – the Jaguars' first-year head coach – said after the Jaguars' first home victory of the season in front of 60,414 at EverBank in a game televised nationally by the NFL Network.
"I wanted us to trust our principals, trust our preparation and go out there and perform like we're capable of. I told them, 'We don't need any world records. We just need your personal best.'"
The Jaguars took a 14-0 lead they never fully relinquished, but Texans quarterback Matt Schaub – replacing Case Keenum in the third quarter – rallied Houston to within 24-20 when Texans kicker Randy Bullock converted a 31-yard field goal with 11:31 remaining.
But with running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had his first 100-yard game of the season, out with a hamstring injury, the Jaguars held on in the fourth quarter.
Kicker Josh Scobee's 39-yard field goal with :25 remaining pushed the lead to 27-20 shortly after an interception by linebacker Geno Hayes. Defensive end Ryan Davis sacked Schaub for a 19-yard loss on the game's final play.
"The game went back and forth," Bradley said. "I thought there were lulls in the game by offense, defense and special teams, but to our credit we came back and made some critical plays. We talked to them about finishing in the second half and I thought we did a nice job.
"Overall, our team continues to show they're sticking to it, believing and making plays at critical times."
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne completed 12 of 27 passes for 117 yards, but was not intercepted and threw two first-half touchdown passes to tight end Marcedes Lewis (one yard) and wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (six yards). Wide receiver Ace Sanders threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to running back Jordan Todman in the third quarter.
The Jaguars did not commit a turnover and they had two takeaways, and Bradley said he likes how the Jaguars' confidence is growing.
"I think our guys are transferring over to where they're using external things that motivate them to where it's becoming more internally," Bradley said "I can see that happening to them and I think when you get motivated more internally you gain more confidence. … We talked a couple weeks ago about it validates what we're doing. It really is a credit to our players for what they've gone through and to stick to it and have some results go their way, it's pretty cool."
Jones-Drew sustained a fourth-quarter hamstring injury and did not return. Bradley said Jones-Drew seemed to be OK after the game, but he had not spoken to trainers when he spoke to the media.
Cornerback Alan Ball sustained a third-quarter neck injury and did return, while wide receiver Ace Sanders sustained an ankle injury fielding a second-quarter punt and also returned. Safety Chris Prosinski did not return after sustaining a third-quarter head injury.
Rookie Josh Evans missed the game after sustaining a shoulder injury against Cleveland last Sunday. Winston Guy started in his place.
Running back Justin Forsett (foot) also missed the game, and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion) missed a fourth consecutive game.
- Bradley on Jones-Drew: "I could see it in the beginning of warm-ups. You could see he was excited about this opportunity. He ran like it. He made some big plays for us."
- Henne: "We did a good job mixing the run and our tempo in passing. There were some plays in the second we wished we had made. But overall, the defense did a good job in the second half and we put enough points on the board in the first half and got a good drive in the third quarter."
- Guard Uche Nwaneri: "We're just looking to keep this thing going. We just continue to build on what we've been doing and preparing like we've been preparing."
- Shorts: "We're having a blast. When you win and your hard work pays off – we're having a good time out there and we're having a lot of fun."
- Bradley on the offensive line: "It takes time. Sometimes it takes seven, eight or nine weeks for the offensive line. We run zone schemes and gap schemes. Some teams run one or the other, but we're trying to do both. We knew it was going to take some time, but we felt like the benefit of having both schemes eventually would help us."
- Jones-Drew's 103 yards on 14 carries marked his first 100-yard game since he rushed for 177 against Indianapolis in Week Three of last season.
- The Jaguars are now 11-13 all-time against Houston. They swept the season series for the third time, having done so in 2005 and 2009.
- The Jaguars have rushed for more than 100 yards as a team in each of the last three games and they have held the last five opponents under 100 yards. The Jaguars as a team rushed for 149 yards on 28 carries and the Texans rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries….
- The Jaguars scored on their opening drive for a fourth time in the last five games….