The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) fell to the Houston Texans (2-6) today 27-25, losing a game that had very little in terms of season implications for either team, but boasted one of the more intriguing story lines of the division with rookie quarterback Jake Luton getting the start at quarterback over Gardner Minshew II who is nursing a thumb injury.
The Jaguars have been tested throughout the season, and head coach Doug Marrone said he told the team after the game that while they played well today, there are “no moral victories.”
“There are some things obviously - there was some things that went well and there’s some things that we need to clear up we just gonna keep going, keep going forward,” Marrone said following the game.
To begin the contest, the Jaguars would score on their opening possession, the first time the team has accomplished that feat since Week 8 of the 2019 season against the New York Jets, exactly 378 days ago. The scoring play would come on an impressive 73-yard touchdown from Luton to receiver DJ Chark Jr.
Chark put together his best performance of the season with seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown.
“You play a team twice, you see the things that you could have explored in the first game, so you come out and you run it the second game, and that’s what we did,” Chark said of his performance on Sunday.
“Hats off to Jake [Luton]. I feel like [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Jay] Gruden tried to make this game plan to take advantage of the things that we missed, but also to cater to him, and I think that they did a good job of communicating and doing that.”
The second throw of his career, Luton had the fourth-longest passing touchdown on a player’s first NFL completion since the 1970 merger, according to ESPN’s EliasSports.
On the day, the Jaguars simply couldn’t get out of its own way at times, with six three-and-outs on the day, including two in the final three possessions of the game. In all, Luton completed 26 out of 38 of his passes for 308 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the day.
Luton would nearly save the day for the Jaguars down eight, 27-19 with an impressive 13-yard touchdown run that included both a stuff arm and a spin move on the way into the end zone. The touchdown would prove too little, too late, however as they were unable to make the two-point conversion with a pass to Chark.
The Jaguars needed a two-point conversion on the day because kicker Josh Lambo inexplicably missed on earlier in the contest. Lambo was injured on the onside kick late in the game, an injury that Marrone said “didn’t look good.”
In all, the Jaguars offense remained balanced throughout the contest, but simply couldn’t get it done against the Texans who entered the game with several key starters missing on defense.
Jaguars running back James Robinson ran the football 25 times for 99 yards and a touchdown on the day.
On defense, the Jaguars played admirably against the run for the second-straight game, holding the Texans to just 28 rushes for 107 yards and a touchdown on the day. Their passing defense, outside of two long passes during the contest, was solid, too.
In the first quarter, Brandin Cooks broke free on a swing pass that netted a 57-yard touchdown, breaking through traffic to get into the end zone. In the third quarter, Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson would allow a long, 77-yard touchdown to Texans receiver Will Fuller.
Immediately after the play, Marrone was seen irate as he spoke to the referees, particularly the back judge on the play as the Texans appeared to have not gotten the snap off as time expired.
“I‘m not gonna do anything,” said Marrone when asked if that was why he was upset. “I think that, you know, not gonna say anything stupid. So, thank you guys realize it.”
While the Jaguars were able to get more pressure on the quarterback, sacking Watson twice, while pressuring him a handful more times. Watson, however, was able to get out of a couple of sacks rushing 10 times for 50 yards, the Texans’ leading rusher on the day.
Overall, the Jaguars looked as if they were competitive for the first time in several weeks, not giving up 30 or more points for the first time since Week 1 of the regular season, and finishing with more yards, 412-374, than the Texans on the day.
The Jaguars will hope to carry whatever momentum they’ve gained from the opening performance into next week as the face off away against the Green Bay Packers.