Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Rest Easy: Jaguars Take Care of Business By Routing Texans

todayJanuary 1, 2023


By Hays Carlyon

HOUSTON – Bring on the Titans.

Jacksonville is ready.

The Jaguars took care of business with an impressive maturity, dispatching the Texans 31-3 in NRG Stadium on Sunday. The victory snapped Houston’s nine-game winning streak in the series.

The Jaguars (8-8) opened up a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter, allowing coach Doug Pederson the luxury of resting some key players like quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and right guard Brandon Scherff.

The victory wasn’t essential. The Jaguars will host Tennessee (7-9) in the finale, which will determine the AFC South champion and the home playoff game that comes with it. A loss in Houston wouldn’t have prevented that. However, it was a testament to this team’s focus that they played like it was critical.

Pederson handled the week masterfully like he has with most things in his first year with the team.

He made it clear early in the week that this was a meaningful game in Houston and no healthy player would be held out as a precaution.

His team responded by playing with a purpose.

“It’s a credit to the guys in the locker room, the coaches, just to stay focused,” Pederson said. “It was our mantra for the week was to stay locked in, stay focused and ready to go. That’s what I told them after in the locker room, the way they handled this week, very proud of them for that. It’s all part of our winning culture.”

Etienne broke a 62-yard touchdown run and gained 140 yards of offense in the first half. His touchdown run was well set up by the offensive line and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.

“I saw great blocking,” Pederson said. “Not only by the line but by Christian and Zay. They did an outstanding job today in the run game, gave him the ability to spring free and get in the end zone. But that’s what Travis can do. We can get him in space and on the perimeter or between the tackles some. He is capable of doing that, and that was good to see.”

The Jaguars defense was flawless. Outside linebacker Josh Allen strip sacked Houston quarterback Davis Mills that resulted in cornerback Tyson Campbell recovering and returning the ball 12 yards for a touchdown.

The Jaguars defense did not allow a touchdown for the second consecutive week. That’s the first time the Jaguars have accomplished that feat since 2001.

Lawrence wasn’t particularly sharp, nowhere close to his elite level of late, but did enough (152 passing yards) to beat a bad team.

“I thought we handled our business today,” Lawrence said. “That was the plan to come in here, start fast and control the game. I thought we did that offensively. A lot of stuff to clean up. Didn’t play our cleanest ball today, but the defense played great and special teams was awesome, so that kind of made up for it.”

The Jaguars will head into the finale with a four-game winning streak and having won five of their last six games.

They are ready for a must-win game. They’ve been playing them for a month.

“We knew we had to take care of business these prior weeks,” Lawrence said. “But we had a feeling we’re going to put ourselves in position to where Week 18 is going to decide our playoff berth and where we head after that. We’ve been expecting this and we’re ready for it.”

What a week we have coming up for us, Jaguars.

I can’t wait to feel the energy.

Savor it.

“This is what you play for,” Pederson said. “This is what you coach for. This is what you want for your football team. … It should be electric. We’re playing for the AFC South and we need all our fans that can get there to get there. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Our guys will feed off of that energy, and it will be fun.”

Bring on the Titans.

(You can email Hays at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).

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