LONDON – On a game that they had to win, the Jaguars imploded in spectacular fashion Sunday for the whole world to see.
Jacksonville’s home game in London was its worst showing of the year and likely sets the table for a slog to the finish of another forgettable season. Houston rolled over the Jaguars 26-3 and sent Jacksonville into its bye week with more questions than ever before.
It mustered just a second-quarter field goal by Josh Lambo and did nothing offensively. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II had a miserable day in what was likely an audition to hang on to the starting job. He tossed interceptions on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter, lost a fumble on the next drive and another with seconds left in the game. That's four Minshew turnovers over a 6 minute and 37-second span.
“You know, I'm disappointed in the performance," coach Doug Marrone said. "I know that this team can perform better, and it starts with me, and I've got to do a better job. They work hard during the week. They care about each other. But it's disappointing when you go out there and you don't perform like you want to. At the end of the day, when you don't do that against a good football team, you're not going to win."
The worst of those giveaways came after the Jaguars’ best play of the game when safety Jarrod Wilson knocked the ball out of Carlos Hyde’s hands as he was going into the end zone at the tail end of a 58-yard run.
The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by the Jaguars for a touchback.
GALLERY: Jaguars fall to Texans in London
While they didn’t have much of a shot down 19-3 and listless on offense, it did give Minshew a chance. But that ended when he sailed another throw high that was picked off by Justin Reid.
"Yeah, it sucks, man. Didn't execute at times, didn't make plays we needed to win," Minshew said. "So yeah, it's no fun.”
The Texans scored on a 1-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins two plays later.
Minshew lost fumbles on Jacksonville’s next two possessions. He was 26 of 46 passing for 297 yards and two interceptions. Running back Leonard Fournette had no room to run either. He managed just 40 yards rushing on 11 carries.
While it didn’t allow a mountain of points, the defense struggled to get a handle on Watson or former Jaguars castoff Hyde, who finished with 160 rushing yards. Watson passed for 201 yards on a 22-for-28 day and a pair of touchdowns.
Jacksonville (4-5) enters the bye week in gut check territory.
The Jaguars can’t afford another loss to an AFC South team. They’ve got two games against the division-leading Colts and another against the Titans left. They likely need to go 6-1 over the final stretch of the season to have a shot at the playoffs.
Will this team look different after the bye week? The Nov. 17 game at Indianapolis is the first game that Nick Foles is eligible to play in. Foles broke his collarbone in Week 1.
"I think after those 48 hours are over, I'm going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don't have to make a decision and have time," Marrone said. "That's what I'm going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I'll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we'll be able to discuss where we're going to go. That's pretty much my plan.”