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Thursday's notebook

'Dream game'

In week six at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars defense shut down the Steelers offense in the second half and that momentum carried over to the first half against the Ravens on Monday night.  If you put together the second half numbers from the Steelers game and the first half totals from the win over the Ravens, the results are astounding.

In those four quarters, the Jaguars allowed only 71 total yards (67 rushing, 4 passing) and three first downs.  In 14 total possessions, the Steelers and Ravens combined to punt 13 times and turned the ball over on a fumble on the other possession.  Ten of the 14 possessions were three-and-outs and the turnover came on the first play of a drive by the Ravens.   

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Back to AFC South play

The Jaguars return to division play on Sunday to battle the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.  Sunday will be the Jaguars' final game before they observe their bye in week nine.  It is also the first of three straight road games as the Jaguars will not play again in EverBank Field until they host the Texans on Nov. 27. 

Three of the Jaguars' next four games are against division foes including the Texans twice in four weeks.  Six of the first seven games were against teams with a record of .500 or above entering week eight including two division leaders (New Orleans, Pittsburgh).    The Jaguars own an 11-5 mark in the game before their open date in 16 seasons, including six straight wins. 

The Jaguars and Texans have met 18 times with the series tied, 9-9.  The Jaguars have won three of the last four games and are 3-7 at Reliant Stadium.  The Jaguars are looking to go 2-0 in the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.  The last time the Jaguars opened division play 2-0 was in 2001 as a member of the AFC Central. 

Collapsing the pocket

The Jaguars rank fifth in the NFL in pass defense after seven games, allowing 196.3 yards per game through the air.  Opposing quarterbacks are averaging only 10.43 yards per attempt, the third-lowest average in the NFL, and only two quarterbacks have a 90-plus rating (Matt Hasselbeck, Tenn., 93.1; Ben Roethlisberger, Pit., 96.3).   The Jaguars have never gone the first eight games of a season without allowing a 100-plus passer rating by an opposing quarterback. 

After recording only three sacks in the first three games, the Jaguars pass rush made a drastic improvement in the last four games.  The Jaguars have 11 sacks in the last four outings including back-to-back games with three sacks. 

Defensive improvement

The Jaguars enter Sunday's game with the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing only 299.7 yards per game.  It marks the highest ranking for the club this late in a season since 2006 (2nd after 17 weeks). 

The Jaguars are one of 13 teams to have a better defensive ranking following seven games in 2011 compared to the end of the 2010 season.  The Jaguars finished the 2010 season ranked 28th in defense.  The Jaguars and Texans (30th to 8th) lead the NFL with the largest improvement from 2010 to 2011, moving up 22 spots each.

Following seven games in 2010, the Jaguars were allowing 382.1 yards per game and 29.8 points.  The numbers have dwindled to 299.7 yards and 19.8 points in 2011. 

Jones-Drew keeps plugging along

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew leads the AFC and ranks second in the NFL with 677 rushing yards (96.7 avg.) in seven games.  Jones-Drew needs 61 rushing yards on Sunday for the most in franchise history after the first eight games. 

Jones-Drew is tied for third in the NFL with 19 rushes of 10-plus yards, the most of his career after seven games.  He accounted for more than half of the team's total yards against the Ravens.   He is 75 rushing yards shy of reaching 6,000 for his career.

MJD in division play

Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL since 2009 with 14 touchdowns and a 98.7-yard rushing average in 12 division games.  He has scored 29 touchdowns in 29 career division games with 11 100-yard rushing games. 

In eight career games against the Texans, Jones-Drew has recorded nine rushing touchdowns and three 100-yard outings.  He averaged 98.3 rushing yards in the last three games against the Texans.  

Scobee off to another solid start

Josh Scobee has connected on his first 14 field goal attempts for the second consecutive season.  Of Scobee's 14 field goals through seven games, nine are from 40-plus yards including five of five from 50-plus yards (55, 53, 54, 54, 51).  He became the sixth kicker in NFL history with three field goals of 50-plus yards in the same game. 

Taking care of the ball

Blaine Gabbert leads all rookie quarterbacks and ranks fifth in the NFL with a 1.4 interception percentage (2 interceptions in 143 attempts) through seven games.  He has not thrown an interception since week four against New Orleans, a span of 90 straight passing attempts.

Television coverage

The game will be broadcast regionally on CBS, locally on WTEV CBS47 (Ch. 6 cable). Marv Albert will handle play-by-play duties with former NFL QB Rich Gannon providing analysis.

Tidbits

  • Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with a 95.4-yard rushing average in road games from 2009-11. 
  • Twenty of Rashean Mathis' 30 career interceptions have come in road games. Mathis has interceptions in two of the three games at Reliant Stadium.
  • Mike Sims-Walker scored six of his seven touchdowns in 2010 in road games.
  • Mike Thomas has 37 receptions for 466 yards in the last seven division games (2010-11) including a career-high 149 yards on eight receptions on 11/14/10 vs. Houston.
  • Drew Coleman, a native of Henderson, Texas, will play his first NFL game at Reliant Stadium.  He played against the Texans at home twice as a member of the New York Jets (2006, 2010). 
  • Paul Posluszny will be playing at Reliant Stadium for the first time in his career.
  • Marcedes Lewis had a 47-yard reception on Dec. 6, 2009 against Houston, the longest reception of his career. 
  • Two of Clint Session's four career interceptions have come against Houston as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
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