The Urban Meyer era is over in Duval county and Jaguars interim head coach Darrell Bevell looked to lead a team with a sense of urgency for the final four games of the season, the first of which came against the 2-11 Houston Texans, a team with very little to play for in their own right.
Even with all of the changes made in Jacksonville, though, the team still couldn’t get it done, making costly mistakes that lead to points for the other team, and simply were unable to execute when they needed to most throughout the day.
Ultimately, the Jaguars would fall 30-16 to the Texans, marking their sixth straight loss of the season, falling to 2-12 on the year. It wouldn’t be all bad for Jacksonville, though as the Detroit Lions (now currently 2-11-1) defeated the Arizona Cardinals, propelling Jacksonville to the No. 1 spot in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars would go down early during the contest, allowing the Texans to convert a fourth down on their first possession due to illegal use of hands to the face penalty on defensive lineman Adam Gotsis.
The Texans would turn what was set to be a three-play drive into a 15-play scoring drive, taking 8:21 off the clock. Texans rookie QB Davis Mills would hit Brandin Cooks on a 22-yard pass for a touchdown.
The Texans entered today missing six starters, including four on defense and two on offense. Still, that wasn’t enough for Jacksonville to take advantage of during the turbulent season they’ve had this year.
In a season filled with drama and noise, there wasn’t much of that today for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars’ mistakes on special teams wouldn’t end at Gotsis’ gaffe, either. The team would allow a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown following a made 22-yard field goal by Brandon Wright. That would put the Texans ahead 14-3 early on in the first quarter of today’s contest.
On the kick-off return touchdown, the Jaguars would lose safety Rayshawn Jenkins for at least the remainder of the contest. Jenkins hurt his ankle on the play, unable to return. He was replaced by a mixed usage of second-year safety Daniel Thomas and rookie safety Andre Cisco.
The Jaguars' defense would buckle down throughout the remainder of the first half, at least somewhat, allowing the Texans to convert just three field goals. The Jaguars’ offense would score just one touchdown throughout the first half, settling for another field goal.
Perhaps the most dramatic sequence of the day, aside from the puppy race at halftime, was on the Jaguars’ first touchdown when a fan ran onto the field during RB James Robinson’s one-yard touchdown run. The fan would immediately be tackled by authorities.
You can see the fan run onto the field at the start of this play, upper right hand corner. #Jaguars score. pic.twitter.com/8sSyuF45pE— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) December 19, 2021
The fan, according to ESPN’s Mike DiRocco would later be arrested and charged with trespassing.
The 53-year-old man that ran into the end zone before Jaguars RB James Robinson's TD run will be arrested and charged with trespassing, per the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) December 19, 2021
After scoring a field goal and a touchdown on their first two drives, Jacksonville would punt three times, turn it over on downs once and score another field goal through the third quarter of action. There was far too much inefficiency when it mattered, which ultimately would cost the team the contest, trailing by 10, 23-13, entering the fourth quarter of action.
Entering the fourth quarter, Jaguars rookie QB Trevor Lawrence had completed 16 out of 24 of his passes for 156 yards. James Robinson had run 15 times for 69 yards and a touchdown as the team’s leading tailback today without Carlos Hyde active due to a concussion.
When everything appeared bleak amid a downpour and a mass exodus by fans entering the fourth quarter, Jaguars rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell would come up with the team’s first turnover of the day, an interception against Texans QB Davis Mills.
Great job by @tysoncampbell_ to jump the route for the interception. Bright spot in a season full of… well… not many bright spots. pic.twitter.com/PWHhxYdCqM— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) December 19, 2021
That would get the ball to the Texans 22-yard-line with Jacksonville in striking distance. A much-needed turnover for the sake of the Jacksonville offense. For Jacksonville, though, they’d only be able to settle for yet another field goal, cutting the Texans lead to seven points with 11:18 remaining in the contest.
With the score 23-16, the Jaguars had another opportunity to tie the ball game with around 8:36 remaining. Instead, the team would punt yet again, with Lawrence one-hopping a football to Laquon Treadwell. Jaguars WR Laviksa Shenault would drop a pass on the previous down.
The Jaguars’ next drive would be derailed on third down yet again, a third drop of the day, this time by Laquon Treadwell, forcing the team to punt the football with just over five minutes remaining in the contest.
The Texans would get the football back, scoring one final game-sealing touchdown on third-and-9. The score would be for 43 yards on a Brandin Cooks screen pass. He would go untouched into the endzone giving the Texans a 30-16 lead with 2:22 remaining in the game.
Mills would finish having completed 19 out of 30 of his passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Jaguars' offense would finish with five drops on the day (two for Shenault, one for Robinson, Treadwell and Tavon Austin). They would finish with 296 total yet yards. Lawrence finished having completed 20 out of 35 of his passes for 188 yards. Robinson would finish with just 18 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, still not able to top 18 carries on the year.