JACKSONVILLE – The NFL is offering fans free access to its Game Pass platform, making any game available dating to 2009. In the coming weeks, we at jaguars.com will highlight Jaguars games from that era. In this story, we highlight a 2017 Week 1 victory over the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The teams: Jaguars versus Houston Texans.
The date: September 10, 2017.
The site: NRG Stadium.
The setup: *This was the '17 regular-season opener, a game played in an emotional environment with Houston dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the Jaguars staying two extra days in Texas because of the storm threatening Northeast Florida. The game set the tone for the Jaguars' season, which ended with their first AFC South title and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. The game was also the first for a revamped Jaguars defense that featured three newly-signed unrestricted free agents – defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church.
The gist: *The Jaguars set the tone for their best season in nearly two decades with one of the most-dominant defensive performances in franchise history. Campbell registered a career-high and franchise-record four sacks, and the Jaguars' defense sacked Texans quarterbacks 10 times to set a franchise record for the most sacks in a single game.
Quotable I: *"We had new additions – me, Calais, Barry, draft picks – that were being talked about, but it was always, 'Same old Jaguars' and things like that. That first game was just a statement that needed to be made and showed what we were capable of. Going to Houston and going to 1-0 in the division … that was a big statement that we made.'' – Bouye
Phenomenally fast start: Campbell served notice quickly that he was destined to be one of the best free-agent signing in Jaguars history. He had 3.5 sacks by halftime of this game, helping the Jaguars set the tone for a defensive that would help coin the nickname, "Sacksonville…"
Quotable II: *"We knew he was a baller. But there's a thing to just do it in your face and do it against a division team that we as a defensive line haven't always gone sack-crazy against. To see him single-handedly rush inside, outside and stop the runs he did … it was like, 'He's everything we thought he was.' " – Jones on Campbell
Quite a payoff: *This was a coming-out game for what would turn out to be one of the best defenses in franchise history, but it was also a huge game for Head Coach Doug Marrone and the Jaguars' leadership. Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' head coach from 1995-2002, had been hired as Executive Vice President of Football Operations the previous January – and Marrone had been hired as the permanent head coach at the same time. Marrone put the Jaguars' players through a taxing training camp both mentally and physically. This game served as a statement for all involved, and was a sign that the tough training camp perhaps had yielded results.
Quotable III: *"It was enormous. We went on the road and we came out of the most grueling camp that any of us ever had been a part of. To beat the Texans in the fashion we did – on the road, division opponent, all of those factors combined – it kind of validated everything we had done. … Even though it's one game in, when you start off like that it definitely sets a tone for the remainder of the year." – Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny
The statistics: Jaguars – Bortles (11-21 passing, 125 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions), Leonard Fournette (26 carries, 100 yards, one touchdown), Allen Hurns (three receptions, 42 yards); Texans –Deshaun Watson (12-23 passing, 102 yards, one touchdown, one interception) and Tom Savage (7-13, 62, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions), Lamar Miller (17 carries, 65 yards, one touchdown), DeAndre Hopkins (seven receptions, 55 yards, one touchdown).
The key series: *The Jaguars' controlled the first half, and led 12-0 after a pair of field goals by Jason Myers and a one-yard touchdown run by just over two minutes before halftime. The Texans had a chance to cut into the lead before the half, but defensive end Yannick Ngakoue sacked Savage. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. returned Savage's fumble on that play 53 yards for a 19-0 halftime lead.
Quotable IV: *"Everybody was hyping up and saying Houston had one of the best defenses in the league. We wanted to show the world how good we could be. It's one thing to say that and have leaders saying and trying to get that mentality going, but it's another thing to actually do it." – Campbell
The clincher: *Watson replaced Savage to start the second half and capped his opening drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins. The Jaguars' offense turned in their best drive of the game on the ensuing series, with Bortles' one-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon all-but clinching the Jaguars' first Week 1 victory in six seasons.