Jadeveon Clowney posted a pair of sacks while Tyrann Mathieu recorded a late interception as the visiting Houston Texans extended their winning streak to four games with a dominating defensive performance in a 20-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The Texans (4-3) took over sole possession of first place in the AFC South by limiting the Jaguars (3-4) to 259 total yards. Jacksonville dropped its third consecutive game, was held scoreless in the first half for a third straight week and benched quarterback Blake Bortles in the third quarter.
Bortles fumbled twice on scrambling attempts, and the Texans capitalized on both of his turnovers. Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus jarred the football loose from Bortles on the third play from scrimmage, with Clowney making the recovery at the Jacksonville 36-yard line. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn converted the short field with a 44-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
With the Texans leading 13-0 early in the third quarter, Bortles fumbled again, this time in the shadow of the Jaguars’ own goalposts. Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham dislodged the football, safety Kareem Jackson recovered at the Jacksonville 12, and Deshaun Watson extended the lead to 20-0 with a 10-yard scoring strike to DeAndre Hopkins at the 10:50 mark.
Backup Cody Kessler replaced Bortles on the ensuing Jacksonville possession and later engineered a 47-yard scoring drive set up by a 21-yard punt return from Dede Westbrook. Kessler connected with T.J. Yeldon for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 left in the third quarter that sliced the deficit to 13 points. When those two attempted to hook up again later in the fourth, Yeldon deflected the pass and Mathieu picked it off with 5:30 left to play.
Kessler completed 21 of 30 attempts for 156 yards in relief of Bortles, who went 6 for 12 for 61 yards. The Jaguars totaled just 70 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Kessler was sacked four times.
Watson, who traveled by bus instead of plane as a precaution for his partially collapsed lung, passed for 139 yards and was sacked only once. He entered play having been sacked an NFL-high 25 times.
Lamar Miller, whose 5-yard run gave the Texans a 13-0 lead with 5:31 left in the first half, rushed 22 times for 100 yards. Clowney finished with seven tackles and four quarterback hits.
—Field Level Media