JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The week off didn’t change things for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville still can’t find a way to win a football game.
The Jaguars played far better than they had before the break, but the slide continued on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville’s 27-25 loss to the Texans marked the seventh consecutive since a Week 1 win over the Colts. The Jaguars had three drives to try and tie things up in the final quarter and nearly did.
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton, filling in for starter Gardner Minshew, led an 80-yard drive that he capped off with a twisting 13-yard TD run to get Jacksonville within 27-25 with 1 minute, 30 seconds to play. Jacksonville had to go for a two-point conversion — Josh Lambo missed a point-after try in the second quarter — and Luton’s pass to tie it up wasn’t close.
The Jaguars visit Green Bay next week, the first team in a rugged second half schedule. Among Jacksonville’s next eight opponents, only one (3-5 Minnesota) is under .500.
Translation: it’s going to be a difficult path to the end of the 2020 season, one filled with draft position watching and renewed calls for owner Shad Khan to make sweeping changes.
At least there were signs of progress coming out of the bye.
Receiver DJ Chark finally got into a rhythm. Luton looked solid (26 of 38, 304 yards, TD) in a start that not many saw coming before last week.
Jacksonville leaned on running back James Robinson (25 carries, 99 yards, TD) more than it had all season. The defense played much better than it has most of the year and finally managed to get some pressure on a quarterback. And Jacksonville ended six straight weeks of allowing an opponent to score 30 points or more.
The bad news: they still can’t scratch out a win.
The Texans (2-6) walloped Jacksonville 30-14 in Week 5 for their lone win of the season but had to work harder for this one.
Luton played well in his spot start in place of Minshew, throwing a 73-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark on his first NFL completion.
Luton got the call to start over the Jaguars bye week when X-rays revealed fractures in the thumb of Minshew. His overall day was OK — Luton had two passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage and at least two interceptions dropped — but did move the ball. Luton finally got Chark in a rhythm, something that Minshew had struggled to do before his injury. Chark finished with seven catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Luton’s lone big mistake was a pass that was picked off by Vernon Hargreaves III midway through the third quarter with Jacksonville driving down 20-16.
Three plays later, Deshaun Watson hit Will Fuller on a 77-yard touchdown — after TV replays showed the play clock had already expired — to give the Texans an 11-point lead. Jaguars rookie cornerback CJ Henderson was torched by Fuller on the play.
The Jaguars would get within one possession on a 30-yard field goal by Lambo with 1 minute, 13 seconds to play in the third quarter but an earlier PAT miss proved costly in the end.
The Jaguars gave up a 98-yard scoring drive right before halftime, the bulk of that yardage (50) eaten up on a pass interference call on Henderson. Duke Johnson scored on a 1-yard run four plays later with 30 seconds before half. The Jaguars answered on a franchise record-tying 59-yard field goal by Lambo.