The Jacksonville Jaguars are the best team in the AFC.
The Jags have not lost on the road yet this season, and just won arguably the most important game of the year so far.
Here are your winners and losers from a heart-racing Sunday.
A wise man once said, “Y’all keep your opinions and we’ll keep finding ways to win.” That wise man did that when it mattered most.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished his day with a season-best 364 yards and 2 total touchdowns. In a battle for who is the best quarterback in the AFC South, Lawrence outright won the day.
Lawrence could have set a career-high in passing if it weren’t for a few drops and both Zay Jones and Christian Kirk barely stepping out of bounds on long plays.
Regardless, Lawrence looked like the guy that he was always supposed to be. He didn’t earn a single rushing yard, so all of his damage was done with his arm. His one interception was somewhat flukey, so that can be forgiven. He made the throws, he made the reads, and kept his team racing up and down the field.
Previously, Lawrence was just 1-4 against Houston, but he won the most meaningful matchup he has ever played against the team.
Offensively, the Jags left quite a few points on the board so it could have easily been an even bigger day for Lawrence. Even still, Lawrence’s 364 yards were a single-game franchise record for a Jaguars passer against the Texans.
Josh Allen is continuing to earn that contract he knew he could get.
With 2.5 sacks on Sunday, Allen moved into second all-time in sacks with the Jaguars.
Allen had 1.5 sacks on the Texans’ final drive of the game, his combined sack just barely pushing the Texans out of field goal range.
Allen also added two tackles for loss and four of the team’s seven quarterback hits. Allen also generated 12 pressures, with eight coming against Laremy Tunsil. That was the first time in the past six seasons Tunsil has allowed more than four pressures to one player.
It is hardly ever pretty for Allen, and sometimes it seems like his name gets lost in the shuffle. But like many of the Jags’ franchise players did on Sunday, he stepped up when it mattered most.
As Allen did in the second half, Ridley too came alive in the clutch.
After not recording a single receiving yard in the first half, Ridley caught five balls for 89 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion.
It was trending to be one of those quiet games from Ridley where defenses make the other Jags’ playmakers make plays. However, the scheme shifted towards getting Ridley the ball and he caught his third touchdown in two games.
Christian Kirk and Luke Farrell
These two had themselves a day.
Christian Kirk finished tied for first on the team with 89 yards on four catches, with Farrell right behind him with 55 yards on three catches.
Kirk did have a drop, albeit in the sun, but when the run game was slow and Evan Engram was struggling Kirk and Farrell helped shoulder the load.
Kirk’s longest play of the day went for 57 yards, where he stepped out just a yard short of the goal line before halftime. Farrell set a career-high with a 42-yard catch.
With the presence of Engram and Ridley, Kirk and especially Farrell get forgotten from time to time. But this pair made quite an impact, especially in key moments.
Forget the miss, McManus is that dude.
The Jags truly have a franchise kicker for the first time since Josh Scobee, and it comes as no surprise that it is with the 10-year Super Bowl-winning veteran.
McManus hit three of four field goals, with makes from 40, 48 and 53. McManus’ miss snapped a streak of 19 straight makes, which coincidentally was started after he missed two field goals the last time these two teams played.
McManus’ leg was quite literally a huge difference in this game. Kickers are people too, remember that.
In the spirit of special teams, Parker Washington played well. His 22-yard punt return will get forgotten in the wash, but he looked good on Sunday.
The run game
Thankfully the passing game was working, because the Jags had nothing on the ground today.
The team finished with 81 ground yards on 30 carries (2.7 per touch). Travis Etienne had just 56 yards on 20 touches, bolstered by a 20-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
D’Ernest Johnson played well again in his limited minutes (19 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving) but all in, it just was not a pretty day running the ball.
Blame it on the line, the Texans' defense, the backs, or all of the above. It was a forgettable day all around, and something the Jags will need to address before they play a solid defense against Cincinnati.
Tough day at the office for Walker Little.
In the place of an injured Cam Robinson, Little stepped in at left tackle. While left tackle is his natural position, Little has been playing left guard due to injuries and team performance issues. The rust was certainly there, as Little was flagged three separate times and he could have been flagged a fourth. The Jags had six penalties all day.
Lawrence didn’t take a sack all game and the Texans were only credited for two quarterback hits, but Little did not play well. Robinson’s injury will be a huge question mark for the team moving forward.