Week 9 Game Recap: Houston Texans 14, Jacksonville Jaguars 21
What you need to know
The Texans played a solid game and had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but came up short. David Carr did an excellent job of managing the game. He rarely threw the ball deep, but was very accurate on his short and intermediate throws. Despite being under pressure by the Jaguars’ defense, and being sacked six times, Carr displayed his toughness by getting back up and continuing to lead his team. Carr finished the game with respectable numbers of 22 completions in 30 attempts, for 219 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
The Texans welcomed wide receiver Andre Johnson back by featuring him in this game. He was thrown to 11 times, and made the most of these targets by hauling in nine of them for 91 yards. Johnson looked good coming off his injury, and did an excellent job of handling the possession receiver role given him for this game. He used his size to advantage, and had some nice catches. Johnson and Carr seemed to be in sync for most of the game, and Johnson played very well considering he had missed time with the injury.
Domanick Davis did not play due to injury, and his running load was shared by Jonathan Wells and rookie Vernand Morency. They combined for 80 yards on 21 attempts, with Wells getting 13 of the attempts. Wells was used mostly on running plays up the middle, and showed an impressive amount of power as he rarely was stopped by one defender. Morency did not have much of an impact running the ball, and was used mostly as the change of pace running back, rushing just eight times for 24 yards, 11 of which came on one run.
Overall, Houston came in with a solid game plan, of a short passing game and good defense, which kept them in the game throughout. Despite being under pressure by the Jaguars’ pass rush, Carr remained resolute and had a solid game, despite the absence of his best running threat, Davis. Houston just had one series in the red zone, and they showed a varied attack as they attempted to score. They mixed in two pass plays, both to Johnson, and two running plays, both by Wells. The series culminated with Wells taking a handoff on a fourth and one play, and running seven yards for a touchdown. This was pretty much the theme of Houston’s day, mixing in the running game with a short passing game that featured Andre Johnson.
The Jaguars played another close game, but managed to come away with the win this week. Byron Leftwich played a similar game to that of Carr, and like Carr, did a good job of managing the game. Leftwich overthrew a few receivers in the first half, but settled down and completed all 11 of the passes he attempted in the second half. After overcoming his rocky first half, Leftwich finished with respectable numbers of 18 completions in 25 attempts for 218 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Leftwich did a good job of spreading the ball around to different receivers, and relied on the short to intermediate passing game, only attempting to throw deep a handful of times. The only receivers he threw deep to were Jimmy Smith and Ernest Wilford, and he was able to connect with them on a couple of throws. Overall, he distributed the ball evenly among six different receivers during the game.
Ernest Wilford replaced Reggie Williams in the starting lineup, as Williams remained on the bench for this game, and took advantage of his new assignment. Wilford caught four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, and looked good. He ran deep patterns a couple of times, and did catch a 39 yard pass, but was most effective in the shorter pass routes, which he ran well and got himself open several times. Jimmy Smith caught all but one pass thrown to him, and moved into ninth position on the NFL’s all time receptions list. He too was used mostly on intermediate passes.
Fred Taylor began the game well, and though he did not have any long, explosive runs, he had a 4.0 yards per carry average in the game. However, he left the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and did not return. Taylor’s primary backup in terms of running attempts was Greg Jones, who carried the ball seven times for 27 yards, including a strong 12 yard run for a touchdown. Jacksonville focused more on the short passing game instead of the running game in the second half, so Jones had limited opportunities to carry the football.
The Jaguars showed that they have a lot of faith in Leftwich by leaning on him when Taylor was lost for the game, despite Leftwich’s poor first half. They were willing to take some shots deep in the passing game, but relied on the shorter passing game the majority of the game. Jacksonville also showed a varied attack in the red zone. The first time they were in the red zone, Leftwich faked a handoff to the running back, and threw a 12 yard strike to Wilford, who ran a nice pattern to get open on a crossing route across the middle. The next time the Jaguars were in the red zone, Jacksonville ran Jones up the middle for a three yard gain. Their next play was a pass attempt that did not materialize as Leftwich ended up scrambling for no gain. After that play, Leftwich ran a designed quarterback draw to perfection and ran up the middle untouched for an eight yard touchdown. On their third trip in the red zone, their first play was a run, but a penalty on Houston put the ball on the 12 yard line. Jones then ran through several tackles up the middle, before breaking outside for the score. Jacksonville demonstrated that their trends when inside the red zone are difficult to identify, as they used a variety of attacks that were all successful in this game.
What you ought to know
|QB David Carr, Pass: 22 - 30 - 219 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0|
Carr was hurried and under pressure for most of the game, yet he still displayed a lot of toughness and kept Houston in the game with a chance to tie the game at the end. Despite being sacked six times and knocked down on many other occasions, when his offensive line gave him time to pass, he was accurate and completed a large percentage of his passes. Carr and Andre Johnson seemed to be in sync immediately, but though Johnson was targeted the most, Carr did not force the ball to him. Carr took advantage of Corey Bradford being in single coverage and connected with him several times during the game. Carr played well considering he was under pressure most of the game.
Wells had a solid overall game, subbing for the injured Domanick Davis. He displayed his power in his runs, which were almost exclusively designed to go up the middle, and was effective in the passing game as an outlet receiver for Carr, displaying good hands and catching all of the passes thrown to him.
Morency had one significant rushing attempt but was not much of a factor otherwise.
Johnson was impressive in his return from injury, He was Carr’s favorite target, and made the most of his attempts, catching almost everything thrown at him. The balls he did not catch were overthrown by Carr. Johnson used his impressive size to advantage, and also the threat of his speed to gain separation, and then turn towards his quarterback to make catches.
Bradford made the most of the balls thrown to him. His 31 yard touchdown was the result of him making several defenders miss as he turned a short pass into the score. He was also the intended target on the last play of the game, where he dropped a deep pass that would have brought the Texans inside the red zone. Bradford was mostly utilized on shorter routes, which he ran well.
Gaffney did not contribute much in this game, as he did not appear to get open much.
Armstrong did not play much, and was only thrown the ball on the Texans’ last drive.
Brown had a quiet game, as he had only two extra point attempts. He made them both.
The Texans' rush defense was solid in this game. Although they allowed a 4.0 yards per carry average to Fred Taylor, they contained him and prevented him from having any long, explosive runs that could have changed the game. While they kept Taylor’s backups under control after he left the game with an ankle injury, they did falter in the red zone. Greg Jones broke several tackles on his way to a 12 yard scoring run, and Byron Leftwich ran untouched up the middle on a designed quarterback draw.
Houston’s pass defense was aggressive and made Leftwich hurry some of his throws in the first half, but did not affect him in the second half. Though they remained aggressive, they seemed to always be a step late, as Leftwich did not have an incompletion in the second half. The Texans’ secondary did not do a good job of keeping the Jaguars’ receivers from getting open in the second half. Like their pass rushing teammates, they seemed to be a step behind and could not stop Jacksonville when they had to.
|QB Byron Leftwich, Pass: 19 - 25 - 218 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 1|
Leftwich overcame a shaky first half to direct the Jaguars to victory. He connected on all of his pass attempts in the second half, and did a fine job of spreading the ball around to his receivers. Leftwich did not attempt many deep passes, as he focused mostly on short and intermediate throws. He appeared equally comfortable throwing across the middle or to the sidelines. When he did throw deep, it was to either Ernest Wilford or Jimmy Smith, and connected with both of them. Leftwich also showed he could be effective with his feet, running up the middle for an eight yard touchdown. He did a solid job of raising his performance in the second half when Taylor was lost for the game, and led his team to victory.
|RB Fred Taylor, Rush: 12 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)|
Taylor left the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Prior to the injury, he was having a solid game. While he did not reel off one of the long runs he is known for, he put in a workmanlike effort in both the running and passing games. Though the Texans were keying on Taylor, he still managed to power his way through tacklers for a 4.0 yards per carry average.
Pearman did not get a chance to contribute much in the running game, but did contribute as a receiver out of the backfield. He was used on screen passes, and usually made the first defender miss before being brought down by a second tackler. While his numbers were not eye-popping, he continued to display sure hands out of the backfield.
Jones did the bulk of the running after Taylor went out of the game, but was not asked to carry the ball a lot. His touchdown run showcased his impressive package of power, as he broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage, then burst away from the secondary for a 12 yard score. He was not involved in the passing game as a receiver.
Wimbush had minimal contributions in the running game and was not a factor in the passing game.
Smith caught most of the balls thrown his way. He was utilized mostly on intermediate routes, and did make a nice, leaping catch to keep a Jacksonville drive alive, which ultimately led to the score that would give them the lead for good. He had two false start penalties in the game, but did not let that affect his concentration when passes were thrown to him.
Wilford was promoted to a starting WR. He built on his strong game last week and capitalized on being awarded the start, by having another very good game. He showed he could not only use his size to good advantage, but he could run good intermediate routes to get open, as evidenced on his touchdown reception. He also was Leftwich’s favorite target on the few deep passes that were attempted, and seemed to continue his development into a more complete receiver.
Jones was used as a possession receiver in this game, as all of his targets were on shorter routes. He displayed good hands and an ability to concentrate in traffic. He was only targeted once in the second half.
Wrighster did not play much and was not utilized in the passing game except as an outlet receiver.
Scobee did not have any field goal attempts and converted all three of his extra point attempts.
The Jaguars' rush defense was improved from their previous game, but still allowed over 4.0 yards per carry to Jonathan Wells, who had several gains of over five yards running up the middle against the strength of the Jaguars’ defensive line. They did however hold his back up, Vernand Morency, to a 3.0 yards per carry average. The Jaguars’ secondary missed several tackles as they tried to provide run support to the aggressive defensive line.
The Jaguars’ pass defense did not get a lot of pressure on David Carr in the first half, but turned up their aggressiveness in the second half, and ended the game with six sacks. They also forced him to hurry some passes and knocked him down after he had released the ball several times. The Jaguars applied pressure in a variety of ways, at times just rushing the defensive linemen, and at other times blitzing linebackers or defensive backs. Their pass defense stiffened on Houston’s last drive, as they sacked him twice on that drive. When Carr was given time to throw, it seemed as though the secondary could not prevent the Texans’ receivers from getting open, however. Overall, a very aggressive and successful pass rushing effort by Jacksonville.