HOUSTON – Against odds, in hostile surroundings, the Jaguars once again on Sunday fought.
Once again, they clawed and scraped.
They played well once again on the road, too, but as has been the case so often this season it wasn't quite enough, with the Houston Texans (9-1) rallying from a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit for a 43-37 overtime victory in front of 71,676 at Reliant Stadium Sunday afternoon.
It was the third overtime game of the season for the Jaguars.
It was the third one on the road.
And for a third time, the Jaguars lost, with Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson capping a career day with a 48-yard, game-winning touchdown reception with 2:01 remaining in overtime.
"It was a disappointing loss," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said.
The Jaguars (1-9) have lost seven consecutive games since a Week 3 victory over Indianapolis.
The loss ruined a huge day for Jaguars backup quarterback Chad Henne, who replaced an injured Blaine Gabbert and led the Jaguars to their best offensive day of the season, throwing for 354 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Gabbert left the game in the first quarter with an elbow contusion. Mularkey said he will make a decision on the quarterback situation next week, and afterward, he spoke more about the disappointment of the moment than the concern over the future.
"It's disappointing for our guys, disappointing for our team again," Mularkey said. "I want good for them so bad I can't stand it."
For many parts of the game on Sunday, it looked like that good would come.
It looked possible in overtime, too, when the Jaguars drove deep into Texans territory after the Texans took a 37-34 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Shayne Graham with 8:10 remaining in overtime. A 28-yard run by running back Jalen Parmele took the Jaguars to the Houston 6.
But that drive died there, and after two incomplete passes by Henne to Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts, a 33-yard field goal by Josh Scobee tied it 37-37.
"It was a rollercoaster game," Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon said. "Those are the games you want to be in and you want to come out on top.
"We wanted to finish this one and wanted to get a win."
The Jaguars had yet another chance when cornerback Derek Cox intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub on the ensuing drive. Cox returned the interception to the Texans 47, but a run by Parmele and three incomplete passes by Henne gave the Texans possession.
Two plays later, Johnson turned a short pass from Schaub into a 48-yard, catch-and-run touchdown. Johnson finished the game with a career-high 14 receptions for 273 yards and a touchdown.
Schaub had a career day, too, completing 43 of 55 passes for 527 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions.
Johnson's performance was nearly matched by Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft who caught seven passes for a career-high 236 yards.
The Jaguars, after falling behind 7-0 early, rallied to take a 14-7 lead on touchdown passes by Henne of 13 yards to tight end Marcedes Lewis and 67 yards to wide receiver Cecil Shorts. After the Texans tied it 17-17 at the half, the Jaguars responded by taking a 27-20 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Henne, who threw a 1-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to Lewis, then found Blackmon deep down the middle on 3rd-and-21 from the Jaguars 19. Blackmon caught the ball near the 50 and turned it into an 81-yard touchdown and a 34-20 Jaguars lead with 12:33 remaining.
Schaub then threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tight end Garrett Graham, with the second – a 5-yarder with 1:34 remaining – tying it at 34-34. The Texans then had a final chance in regulation, but Shayne Graham's 41-yard field goal missed badly.
That set the stage for an overtime that matched a wild regulation, but one that also left the Jaguars with an all-too familiar feeling for what Mularkey afterward called "a special bunch of guys who lay it on the line every week."
"I told them we didn't come here for a tie," he said. "We wanted to win the football game. We had some chances. We just didn't make the plays as we did throughout the year. That was probably the difference."